Sir Anthony Eden
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SIR ANTHONY EDEN
The Bernard Shaw Dictionary
Winston Churchill: a biography
The Way of the Dictators
The Innocence of Edith Thompson
Crowning the Queen
A.B.C. of the Coronation
The Friendships and Follies of Oscar Wilde
OW Indomitable and his successor at the door of Number Ten
SIR ANTHONY EDEN
THE CHRONICLES OF A CAREER
WITH 30 ILLUSTRATIONS
Stratford Place London
Hutchinson & Co. (Publishers) Ltd.
London Melbourne Sydney Auckland
Bombay Cape Town New York Toronto
First published 195 5
Reprinted (before publication) May 1955
Reprinted May 1955
Printed in Great Britain
by The Anchor Press, Ltd,,
Preface Page 9
Chapter i The Eden Line ir
II Eton War Oxford 18
in The Parliamentary Novice 24
rv Junior Minister 36
v Lord Privy Seal 42
vi Member for the League 53
vii Foreign Secretary 66
viii War in Spain 80
DC Differences with Chamberlain y? 89
x The Widening Rift 98
xi Resignation 104
xii Munich and After 115
xiii Appeasement Ends in War 128
xrv Return to Office 140
xv Foreign Office Again 150
xvi Frank Talks with Roosevelt 164
xvii The Cause of Poland and Greece 171
xvni Yalta to Potsdam 185
XDC Six Years' Break 194
xx The Third Term 198
xxi Knight of the Garter 210
xxii At Work And Home 218
xxiii In the American Mirror 226
xxiv^Churchill's Successor The Eden Enigma 236
The Old Indomitable and his successor Frontispiece
Thirteen, photographed in his topper Page 16
A successful Wet Boh 16
Behind the trophies for which he had competed 16
First "World War, the youngest adjutant 17
Decorated with the M.C. and promoted Staff Officer 17
With a group of officers and N.C.O.s of K.R.R.C., in 1916 17
At Nawton Tower in 1938 with Mrs. Eden 32
With his younger son, Nicholas 32
Before the Conservative Party Conference at Brighton 33
Two wartime pictures 33
Carrying his famous Homhurg hat 64
In disguise as an airman 64
In batdedress he takes part in an exercise of tanks 64
As Foreign Secretary with Lloyd George and Ivan Maisky 65
With French Ministers, including the notorious Pierre Laval 65
With Sir Samuel Hoare (Lord Templewood) 80
Accompanying Sir John Simon during a League of Nations
Beside the Emir Abdullah of Transjordan, with General
Wavell, in 1942 81
President Roosevelt's greeting on his arrival at the Quebec
Conference in 1943 81
At the Potsdam Conference in 1945, with Stalin, Molotov, and
At Berlin Airport 128
"Welcoming Senator Wiley at Carlton House Terrace 129
In discussion at the White House with President Eisenhower 129
John Foster Dulles takes leave of 10 Downing Street 144
The Foreign Secretary shares a joke with Chou En-Lai 144
"But best of all no more jokes." A Cummings cartoon from
the Daily Express 145
With Lady Eden after his second marriage, August I4th, 1954 192
The new Prime Minister acknowledges the greeting of the
This book is an account, in narrative form, of the life of Sir
Anthony Eden, so far as his career has been unfolded. It is an
interim report made at mid-career. The subject matter of the major
chapters has yet to be provided.
In no sense have I attempted an appraisal of Sir Anthony's work
as Foreign Secretary. That must remain until fuller knowledge
permits a reasoned estimate to be made.
The work of a Foreign Secretary is of a nature that is best
presented in description or analysis. To make it conform with the
requirements of narrative much adaptation is necessary. To keep
the story moving, it has been necessary to select the facts and to
omit those details of diplomat exchanges that are necessary for a
study of foreign affairs.
The book is the outcome of a suggestion that I should write an
account of Sir Anthony's career that would satisfy the curiosity
existing in the United States of America about the personality of
the Prime Minister-designate of Great Britain, who, as my work
reached completion, succeeded to office on Sir Winston Churchill's
It is against the tradition of the past to write a biography of a
statesman during his lifetime. There are, indeed, reasons for the
tradition. Only an insensitive author can give complete expression
to his opinions about the public figures of his time while they are
still making their appearance on history's stage. Nor is it possible
to reach a full understanding of events, of men and of their motives,
until the records, state and private papers, have been made com-
pletely available. So it has come about that the publication of the
biographies of public men has been delayed until they have gone so
long from the scene that interest has begun to fade with the passing
of the generation that knew them.
Beyond the mere gratification of public curiosity, there lies the
deeper matter of the people's right to be made acquainted about the
achievements and character of those who serve them in political
life. Pre-eminently is this the case with the man who fills the
highest political office in the state. The Sovereign's prerogative and
Parliament's support are subject to the final endorsement of the
At some date in the future that we hope may lie far ahead the
biographer will write from full knowledge and in complete free-
dom concerning Sir Anthony Eden. Here, in this interim report,
is the record of his public acts, supplemented by such testimony as
has been made available concerning the circumstances in which he
acted and the manner in which his decisions were reached.
In the last resort it is a man's acts that testify most surely to his
character. The light and shade, the more subtle manifestations of
personality, may be etched in later. But no man can be concerned
in public life for a quarter of a century without disclosing the
essential basis of his being. From this account, objectively presented,
of public work rendered for the most part at the Foreign Office, the
reader may form an estimate of the man recognized for so many
years as the Prime Mimster-in-waiting.
I should like to make expression of my indebtedness to those
who have helped me by their advice or by the provision of material,
in particular to the Bishop of Derby, the Dean of Christ Church,
the Provost of Worcester, the Provost of Eton, Mr. Charles Reid
and Mr. Don Iddon. Many gaps remain in the record of Sir
Anthony's career. There is, for instance, no account of his service
in France in the First World War. I should welcome assistance in
making good these omissions for any future edition of this book.
THE EDEN LINE
IR ANTHONY EDEN has achieved many notable distinctions.
He was the youngest Foreign Secretary of modern times and the
youngest Adjutant in the British Army. He is the only Minister of
the Crown who has won honours in Oriental languages, and who
has been able to converse in their native tongue with Arab and
Persian. His tenure at the Foreign Office in his three periods of
service is one of the longest on record and his knowledge of the
intricacies of international affairs has long been without parallel
amongst the world's statesmen.
Another distinction is his he is the enigma of British politics.
No man in public life has continued to be so well known and yet
so little known.
For over thirty years he has been a Member of Parliament. For
nearly a quarter of a century he has occupied a front place on the
public stage. Where statesmen of the world have gathered he has
been present. He has passed from capital to capital and from con-
ference to conference Geneva, Teheran, Cairo, Washington,
Yalta, San Francisco, Potsdam, even distant Bangkok. Since his
youthful and elegant figure was first pictured at Geneva he has been
the target of innumerable cameras. But the limelight that has shone
on the public figure has not penetrated to the man beneath the
attractive exterior that is known to the world.
A question mark has remained against his name -what is the
nature of Anthony Eden? He became the successor-designate of
Sir Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister-in-waiting, and as the
years went by the question was repeated in another form what
might we expect of him when he came to occupy the first place?
Many who have followed the course of the career of the
parliamentarian and Minister of the Crown have owned them-
selves baffled by the nature of the man. They credit him with many
qualities the excellence of his brain, his soundness as adminis-
trator, his skill as negotiator. These things they acknowledge and
they say "He has brains, we know, but has he guts?"
12 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
The acts of Sir Anthony Eden are on the record, but they have
taken place on the international stage, that undiscovered country
to whose bourne the man-in-the-street is little disposed to pene-
trate. The Foreign Office has not been the customary stepping-stone
to the premiership. Since Rosebery and Salisbury held office, no
Prime Minister on the list had previously served as Foreign Secre-
tary, Ramsay MacDonald coupled the two posts in his first adminis-
tration. Arthur Balfour was Foreign Minister ten years after he left
10 Downing Street. It is the Exchequer that has provided the most
frequent path to power, Six of the nine Prime Ministers of the last
half century served as Chancellor Asquith, Lloyd George, Bonar
Law, Baldwin, Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill.
To have controlled the nation's finances, rather than its foreign
policy, has appeared to be a sounder qualification for the supreme
post. The Exchequer has the advantage that it brings its holders
more prominently under public scrutiny. The man who imposes
taxes in the Budget is a figure of more intimate concern for the
electors than the minister who concludes treaties. Sir Anthony
would have been more familiar to the masses had he been engaged
with problems of the people's food or their houses. The Foreign
Office is reckoned to be a place apart, concerned but little with
the trivialities that add up to life for the man-in-the-street.
It is the purpose of these pages to throw light on the Eden
enigma and to discover the man beneath the public figure. Consider
first the line of his ancestors and mark the compounding of the
qualities that form the basis of Sir Anthony's character.
Anthony Robert Eden was born on June 12, 1897, within a few
days of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. His birthplace was
Windlestone, the family seat near Bishop Auckland in the Northern
County of Durham, He was the fourth child and third son of Sir
"William Eden and his wife Sybil Frances, daughter of Sir William
On both sides he comes from ancestors who pkyed an eminent
part in the history and service of their country. Through his mother
he is connected with Earl Grey, Prime Minister of the famous
Reform Bill. He can also claim as relative Sir Edward Grey,
Foreign Minister in the years before the First World War.
On his father's side he is descended from a north country family
THE EDEN LINE 13
whose sons have served the state in many fields during the last
three centuries. The Edens began with a sturdy race, who, for
three or four hundred years, lived on their estate in distant Durham,
a border county where fighting was frequent, and where a family
had need of strong armed sons to preserve itself through the
troubled times of the Middle Ages, and against the marauding
Scots from across the Border, Later, there came Cavaliers to serve
their King in the wars with Parliament. The Edens prospered and
rose in rank and responsibility under the Georges. About the year
1750 there was a quickening in the strain that produced a new high
mark of achievement. In the last century a new infusion brought
an artistic strain into the line.
These diverse influences have left their mark on the compound
of the Eden character. But the outstanding and persistent quality
has been devotion and ability in service of the country, which has
been a tradition and an inspiration in the family. The Edens have
provided generals and admirals for the forces, Bishops for the
Church, and Ministers for the Cabinet. One Eden was Governor of
Bengal, another was Governor-General of India. An Eden was
Governor of Maryland at the time of the War of Independence;
another, Governor of North Carolina, gave his name to Edenton.
Two baronetcies and three peerages were conferred on members
of the house.
Sir Anthony Eden has proper cause for pride in the name to
which, in his turn, he has added lustre. The family historian traces
back his descent to Robert de Eden, who was born during the long
reign of the third Edward and who is known to have died in 1413,
two years before the Battle of Agincourt. He was seized of three
messuages and ten oxgangs of land in Preston-on-Tees, property
that continued in family ownership through many generations.
The family flourished, adding to their estates by purchase and
by marriage, both judiciously conducted, so that in Tudor times
they were possessed of the Hall or Manor House of West Auckland,
in addition to properties of Windlestone, Bellasis and Preston. In
the Civil Wars the Edens fought for King Charles. One young
Eden, Robert by name, was authorized in 164.3, he then being
twenty-seven years of age, to raise for the King a regiment of foot a
thousand strong. Having backed the losing side, this Colonel Eden
suffered deprivation of his estates under Cromwell, but he lived
14 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
long enough to join in the celebrations of the Restoration. The
loyal services of the family were recognized by the conferment in
1672 of a baronetcy on Robert Eden, the Colonel's eldest son. This
baronetcy is now held by Sir Robert's seventh successor, who is
brother of Sir Anthony, the Prime Minister.
Sir Robert Eden, the first baronet, and his heir, Sir John Eden,
both sat as Members of the House of Commons for the County of
Durham. It was with the children of the third baronet that the
name of Eden began to acquire wider fame. They were a generation
of outstanding ability. The eldest of them, the fourth baronet, sat
in three Parliaments for Durham. The second son became Governor
of Maryland and was rewarded with a baronetcy for his services.
The third son had a distinguished career in politics and diplomacy
and was raised to the peerage as Lord Auckland. The fourth son was
auditor of Greenwich Hospital. The eighth son served as Ambas-
sador to several states of the Continent and was made a peer as
Lord Henley. In the next generation the Edens were providing
a numerous host of servants for Church and State.
There were few more able and versatile figures in the public
life of his time than William Eden, first Lord Auckland (1744-1 8 14) .
First studying law, he took up the then little considered subject of
economics and established the National Bank of Ireland. Pitt sent
him to France to negotiate a trade treaty and thoughfrso well of him
that he dispatched him as special envoy to Madrid, as head of a
commercial mission to America and as Ambassador Extraordinary
to the Hague. William became Minister of the Crown as Paymaster-
General and it seemed that he might be linked by closer ties with
the young Prime Minister.
It was with William's daughter Eleanor that Pitt had his solitary
and unhappy love affair. He became devotedly attached to her, but
she married another man. An estrangement developed between
him and William Eden, who joined Pitt's opponents, serving as
President of the Board of Trade in the Ministry of All the Talents.
His son George (1784-1849) continued the political successes
of his father. He allied himself with the Whigs and served at the
Board of Trade under Lord Grey of the Reform Bill. Melbourne
made him First Lord of the Admiralty and sent him to India as
Governor-General, an earldom being conferred on him.
Of the other children of the first Lord Auckland, Morton, Lord
THE EDEN LINE 15
Henley (1752-1821) won fame for his skill in diplomacy, serving
at Copenhagen, Berlin, Vienna and Madrid. Robert John was
Bishop successively of Sodor and Man and of Bath and Wells.
Emily (1797-1869), the seventh daughter, was a traveller and
writer of note, a celebrated hostess in Victorian London.
The direct descent of the baronets of the original West Auckland
line came to an end with the fifth holder of the tide, Robert Johnson
Eden (1774-1844). He was lacking in the qualities of his brethren,
a shy retiring person, with little interest in public affairs. The family
were to hold it against him that he disposed of the Eden estate at
Preston-on-Tees, with its three messuages and ten oxgangs of land.
Ancestral past did not weigh with him as much as present prestige,
for with the proceeds of the sale he provided the family with a seat
at Windlestone, a mansion of noble proportions, finely sited on the
brow of a hill looking out over parklands. Here, half a century
later, Sir Anthony was born.
Sir Robert failed to provide for the continuance of his line, and,
he dying unmarried, the baronetcy passed to the head of the junior
branch of the family, Sir William Eden, fourth baronet of Mary-
land, who became sixth baronet of Bishop Auckland. The two
baronetcies have since descended in direct line from father to son,
the present holder, Sir Timothy Calvert, being eighth in the line
of Bishop Auckland and sixth of Maryland.
Maryland was a British province of the Crown in the days (1769)
when Robert Eden arrived at Annapolis with his young wife. She
was the sister of Lord Baltimore, Lord Proprietary of Maryland,
who made Robert his chief executive and Governor of the Province.
Captain Eden, late of the Coldstream Guards, was warmly wel-
comed to his province, a local poet celebrating the occasion in lines
Long as the grass shall grow or river run,
Or blow the wind's, or shine the sun,
May Eden and his sons here reign and stay,
Themselves as happy as the realms they sway.
Captain Eden was in Maryland no more than five years before
the intentions of the insurgent Americans made it necessary for him
to sail for home. During his governorship he had proved himself
16 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
an able administrator, who in difficult times discharged his duties
with tact and skill, winning the reputation of a man "easy of access,
courteous to all, and fascinating in his accomplishments". He was
acknowledged to have acquitted himself as well as could be "under
difficulties that were thought here to be insurmountable", and he
received a baronetcy that testified to King George the Third's
approbation of his conduct. After the wars had ended in America's
independence, Sir Robert returned to Maryland to seek the
recovery of his properties that had been confiscated. While thus
engaged he contracted a fever that proved fatal to him and he was
buried (1784) at Annapolis, beneath the pulpit of the old Episcopal
In passing, it may be noted that marriage with a daughter of the
house of Baltimore invested succeeding generations of Edens, sons
and daughters, with the tide of Count or Countess of the Roman
Empire. It came about in this fashion.
In the year 1595, Rudolph the Second, "by the mercy and
favour of God, Elect Emperor of the Romans", rewarded the
services of Sir Thomas Arundell with the tide of Count. The
patent conferring the tide provided that it should be generously
shared by his descendants "the whole legitimate offspring and
posterity, male and female, for ever". Sir Thomas, later Lord
Arundell, had a daughter Anne, who by her marriage carried the
tide with her into the family of the Lords Baltimore, and thence it
passed down the generations to Caroline, bride of Sir Robert Eden
of Maryland. Through their posterity, in turn, it has descended to
the Edens of this generation. By which means it has come about
that, in common with the Edens of his line and with the other
descendants of the Baltimores, Sir Anthony Eden is holder of the
tide of Count of the Holy Roman Empire.
The Edens have been distinguished for independence of oudook
as well as by their abilities. One of the most intellectually dis-
tinguished was Frederick Morton (1766-1809), second holder of the
Maryland baronetcy. He was one of those humanitarians of whom
Lord Shaftesbury was the pre-eminent example. At a time when
persons of rank were not generally concerned about the poorer
classes, he spent his life in social investigations, studying the con-
ditions of the labouring men. He wrote a book on the results of his
inquiries, "The State of the Poor", a classic in this class of writing,
He was thirteen when he was photographed
in his topper. A successful Wet Bob, he stands
in the lower picture behind the trophies for
which he had competed
In the First World War he was the
youngest adjutant in the British Army.
He was decorated with the M.C. and
was promoted Staff Officer. He is
third from the left in the front row in
the group of officers and N.C.0.5 of
C Company, 2ist (Service) Bat-
talion, K.R..R.C., in 1916
THE EDEN LINE I?
one of the earliest works to draw attention to the distresses of the
labouring classes during the earlier years of the industrial revolution.
He was distinguished, says his biographer, for the benevolence of
There is little beyond the circumstances of his death to record
of Morton Eden's heir, Sir Frederick Eden. He was no more than
sixteen when he was fatally wounded on active service in America
when serving as Ensign in the 85th Regiment in the assault on New
Orleans under Sir Edward Pakenham. Like his grandfather, he
found his grave in American soil.
His brother William (1803-1873), who succeeded, brought new
talents to the Eden line. He was a well-read man of artistic tastes,
with some skill as an artist. Under him the two baronetcies of
Maryland and West Auckland became combined. His son and heir,
another Sir William, inheriting his artistic tendencies, developed
characteristics that, as is shown in the chapter following, made him
In the complicated pattern of the character of Sir Anthony Eden
it is not difficult to trace back the threads to his ancestral past and
to mark the elements derived from his forbears. The contribution
of those able Edens of Georgian times is plain to see. From them he
derived his skill in the conduct of diplomatic affairs. From the
Governor of Maryland he has inherited that easy courtesy and the
charm that has assisted him in the conduct of negotiations. With
Frederick Morton Eden, his great-grandfather, he shares a liberal-
minded humanitarianism. From his grandfather and his father he
has inherited his artistic interests and his sensitiveness. Underlying
these later strata are the older virtues of his race, the basic strength
of the fighting Edens. The Cavaliers and their forbears fought for
their lands, for their King and for the cause. He, in his generation,
fought for his Kong and his cause no less gallantly than they.
ETON WAR OXFORD
E upbringing of Anthony Eden followed the course tradi-
JLtional in the family. Through the generations the record has
been the same Eton and Oxford. In his case there was the difference
that a course in the trenches and the mud of the Flanders battlefields
in the First World War separated school and college.
He was born in time to enjoy the privilege and delights of
country house living in a style that has vanished with perukes
and pigtails, and that can now be relived only in the reminis-
cences of the Victorians. He made his bow to history in a reference
or two to Anthony in his father's letters "I love you dearly,
Sir William Eden's sons were fortunate in their childhood back-
ground Windlestone, of spacious loveliness, with its flowers, its
grassland and its trees, esteemed by its sons to be second to none
in England. To the West the eye could glimpse the hills against the
blue sky of England's backbone. From the East the winds came
sweeping from die North Sea to add their invigorating freshness to
the zest of life.
There was a disturbing quality about the father of Anthony and
his three brothers. Sir William, yth holder of the West Auckland
baronetcy, was the eccentric of the Edens, an unpredictable despot,
caustic of tongue, roused by the annoyances of life to demonstrations
of fitful rage. He combined hereditary skill in the hunting field
the "best man to hounds in the North of England" with a less
usual talent for painting in water-colours and an artist's appreciation
of the beautiful. It was Sir William's distinction to have come off
best in a dispute with the waspish Whistler.
His character has been drawn in a little masterpiece of biography
by his heir, whose filial affection has not caused him to tone down
parental eccentricities. Sir William Eden was at war with himself,
with his family, whom he terrorized, and with friends, whom he
overpowered. A man of infinite variety and outstanding originality,
ETON WAR OXFORD 19
he was over-sensitive and over-excitable, intolerant of views not
his own, intensely resentful of criticism, who came to find his only
consolation from life in the genius of his own water-colours. He
spoke and acted, says his son in a pregnant phrase, "under the per-
petual pressure of internal combustion".
As a parent he had limitations imposed upon him by his tem-
perament. His benevolence was not to be presumed on, and his
sharp sayings were hurtful to childish sensitiveness. He had not the
patience, says his son, to suffer the moods and tears of childhood.
Whenever the holidays came round, he fled from home, unable to
endure the paraphernalia of children.
It is not to be conceived that he would have been lost in
admiration of the labours of his son, the Foreign Secretary, in the
cause of the League of Nations. Sir William was a man of vigorous
prejudices and high on the list was that "palace of peace at the
Hague", for which he had a furious detestation. Through him,
Anthony inherited his artistic leanings and sensitivity and his taste
for gardening. The gardens at Windlestone were more prized than
From his father, too, he inherited an individuality of outlook
and a passion for truth. "There is," Sir William said, "only one
thing in life, and that is to run straight. Don't for God's sake play
a double game." There are politicians who would set small store
by Sir William's counsel, but for the Foreign Secretary-to-be, it was
not the least valuable item in the Eden heritage.
On his mother's side, Anthony was descended from another
family in which service to the state has been a tradition and a dis-
tinction. Lady Eden was a Grey. Her father, Sir William Grey, was
Governor of Bengal, her grandfather Bishop of Hereford, and her
great-grandfather the first Earl Grey, and brother of the Prime
Minister of the Reform Bill of 1832. Sybil Frances Grey was a
woman whose beauty threw her husband into ecstasies of
Anthony was the fourth of her five children. He was devoted
to her, the kindest of sons. "He never gave me a moment's trouble,"
she said in after years. "He was the quiet one." She recalled that even
as a child he displayed a precocious interest in politics. The younger
Pitt first showed his talents as a youth by improvising replies to
speakers he heard in debate. Anthony Eden gave an indication of
2O SIR ANTHONY EDEN
his talent by naming the political associations of the towns through
which he passed on his journeys by train.
In the years of what his father contemptuously termed "petticoat
government", his education was begun by a German governess
with a talent for teaching languages, her native German and
French. When he was thirteen, he went South to Eton, following
the footsteps of Edens for a couple of centuries or more, the for-
bears whose portraits on the walls of Windlestone had been a
reminder to him in his childhood years of the achievements of the
sons of his race.
Anthony Eden won no distinction in his school days. He is
remembered by his House-master as a pleasant boy with a good
brain. He was a Wet-bob, and had some success with the oar. In
1915, when he was eighteen, he left to go with others of his year
straight into the Army.
What influence Eton exerted on the development of the man
there is little to show. It has been said that he is not conspicuously
Old Etonian. Certainly there is no expression in writings or speeches
of that affection for the place to which some have confessed who
have fallen under the spell binding them to their old school with
ties of attachment, stronger, so they claim, than can be woven by
Harrow, Winchester or Rugby.
Churchill has made his anniversary visits to Harrow. Eden has
not responded to the yearly call of the Fourth of June that some
Etonians can never ignore. As evidence of this, we are told by one
Eton author of the incident in the Boer War "A very trying day,
sir!" said a keen young A.D.C. to his General, during a brisk scrap
with the Boers. "Trying, my boy, I should think it is," said the
Old Etonian fox-hunting Life Guardsman, who was also a General.
"This is the first Fourth of June for thirty years that I have not
been at Eton."
The Fourth of June, by happy chance, was marked for Lieu-
tenant Eden by the Gazette announcing the conferment of his
Military Cross. This intrusion of the war may have interfered with
the working on him of Eton's spell. His final year at school was
overshadowed by the fighting in Flanders. In the war's opening
months, before 1914 was out, his eldest brother, John, had been
killed on active service while serving in France with the I2th
Lancers, and his second brother, Timothy (the present baronet),
ETON WAR OXFORD 21
had been interned, to spend two years in Ruhleben. His younger
brother, William Nicholas, was to be killed as midshipman in the
Battle of Jutland.
From 1915 to 1919, Anthony Eden is lost to sight, his identity
submerged in the millions who fought against Germany and the
Kaiser. Major Churchill's service in the trenches was made the
subject of a diverting record by his adjutant, but Sir Winston was
a celebrity before he went to France. There is no account of
Lieutenant Eden's days in the King's Royal Rifle Corps. He served
for some time in C Company, 2ist (Service) Battalion, K.R.R.C.
He fought in the Battle of Ypres, where he was gassed, and the
"London Gazette" of June 4th, 1917, announced the conferment on
him of the Military Cross. Captain Eden was made Staff Officer,
and later, Brigade Major.
He returned from France, sharing in the detestation for war as
a means of settling disputes between peoples. Later this was to give
a direction to his work as Minister for Foreign Affairs. He was to
identify himself in frequent speeches with the "lost generation",
and his championship of the principles of the League of Nations
sprang from his personal experience of the folly of modern war,
the futility of the battle of men against machines. But, though he
detested war, he came to appreciate the professional soldier, and to
understand the workings of his mind.
The war over, he decided to complete his education academ-
ically and followed the family course to Oxford and to Christ
Church. Again as at Eton, the war seems to have deprived him of
drawing from the University all that Oxford has to give. He, and
others of his age, could not offer in the book of life unmarked pages
on which Oxford could leave her imprint. France and the trenches
had made their mark on impressionable youth. The University
received men matured in the experience of war. The Oxford of
his years was a disturbed Oxford, crowded by the reception of
veterans from the war mingling with the normal intake from the
As was the case at Eton, he was in no way outstanding. He
lived, for part of the time at any rate, in the Old Library block of
buildings. He sat Final Schools in Oriental Languages, Persian and
Arabic in Trinity Term 1922, and was awarded a First Class. He
took his B.A. degree in Hilary Term 1923. Christ Church elected
22 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
him in 1941 to an honorary studentship, the equivalent of an
Honorary Fellowship. He was not prominent in college life, and
did not, curiously enough, take any part in the debates of the
Oxford Union, in which he resembled another Foreign Secretary,
The present Dean of Christ Church (Dean Lowe) states that the
impression Anthony Eden made upon senior members was that of
an already mature young man, rather retiring, who kept himself to
himself, and went steadily about his business of mastering Persian
and Arabic very courteous and assured, always kind at putting
censors and dons and such at their ease.
The recollection is shared by the Junior Censor of Christ Church
of the early twenties,}. C. Masterman, now Provost of Worcester.
He remembers a friendly, courteous, able man, whom it was always
a pleasure to see. Eden did not take a leading part in any special
college activities, but probably saw his career in front of him, and
did not have much time to spare for other things at Oxford. "I
remember talking with him and his brother one day about the very
fine Lawrence portrait of William Eden, Lord Auckland, which
hangs in Christ Church Hall. I have always thought of that picture
as a good representation of Eden characteristics."
To his tutor, Dr. A. E. J. Rawlinson, now Bishop of Derby,
I am indebted for the following exquisite account of how he was
nominated as tutor for Anthony Eden:
"It is quite true that in a very nominal sense I was Anthony
Eden's tutor when he was at Christ Church. His decision to
read Persian and Arabic meant that he would have to be taught
out of college none of the actual Christ Church staff of tutors
had any knowledge of those tongues. The then Dean J. B. Strong
(afterwards Bishop successively of Ripon and Oxford), argued
with characteristic whimsicality that the nearest thing to
Oriental languages was Hebrew, and that the nearest thing to
Hebrew was Theology wherefore it was the Theological
Tutor who must take charge of the supervision of Eden. On
those strange grounds I became his nominal tutor. Once a term
I invited him to lunch: once a term I and my wife were invited
back. But I really knew very little of him and was able to do
very little for him. He did what someone once described as
ETON WAR OXFORD 23
*a lot of surreptitious work' in the intervals of social life with his
friends, and in the end was placed in the first class by the
examiners in the Honours School of Oriental Languages. He
must have worked very hard and conscientiously."
When Eden came up, Dr. Rawlinson did not consider him to
stand out as being conspicuously above the average in ability and
distinction. He was just a socially attractive and obviously capable
ex-officer and Old Etonian. He had been educated at the nursery
stage by a German governess who had made him already tri-
lingual. He already had foreign politics in mind as a career, and
thought the languages of the Middle East likely to be diplomatically
useful and important. Once, a good many years later, he told me,
Dr. Rawlinson adds, he regretted not having learned Russian, since,
in discussion with Russian statesmen, he had to depend on inter-
preters, the reliability of whom he was not able to test.
Eden, clearly enough, was in no state of uncertainty about his
career. Before he had finished his time at Oxford he had stood,
unsuccessfully, for Parliament. A year later he secured election to
the House of Commons.
THE PARLIAMENTARY NOVICE
A NTHONY EDEN began bis Parliamentary career to the luck
iVof a good start. No politician has made less effort to court
publicity, but the limelight has followed him since he first invited
the suffrages of the loyal electors of Warwick and Leamington.
It was for him a honeymoon election, his marriage taking place
in the midst of the campaign. His candidature was backed by the
publicity attracted by his opponent, the Socialist Countess to whom
he was by marriage doubly related. Years of speaking in the House
of Commons could not have gained for the young unknown of
politics the advantages he received from the fact that he was
opposed by the Countess of Warwick. In these days Countesses and
Socialism have no longer the same appearance of incongruity. Lady
Warwick had been a worker in the Socialist cause for twenty years.
Her adoption as candidate by the local Labour Party was made the
more startling to the electors by her relationship by marriage with
the young Tory nominee.
It was the appointment of Sir Ernest Pollock (Lord Hanworth)
as Master of the Rolls in October 1923 that gave Anthony Eden
his chance in the Warwick and Leamington Division. Sir Ernest
had represented the seat as Conservative member since 1910, and
the news of his elevation to the Bench caught the three parties
unprepared. The Conservatives had no man in the offing, but by
October i8th the divisional executive had decided to invite Captain
Robert Anthony Eden, M.C., to address a meeting at Leamington
with a view to his adoption.
It was not without hesitation that the decision had been reached
to issue the invitation to a young man of twenty-six, whose prin-
cipal recommendations were youth, good looks and good family.
Older Conservatives remembered that Warwick had been repre-
sented by men of such eminence as Speaker Peel and Alfred
Lyttelton? Gladstone's brother-in-law.
It was the late Lord Willoughby de Broke, the local chairman,
who had put forward Eden's name. His backing carried the
THE PARLIAMENTARY NOVICE 2$
day. When it was said that "Eden is so young", his sponsor brushed
the objection aside. "Young be damned he's got brains and has
set his mind on a Parliamentary career. I predict for him a brilliant
future." Anthony himself undertook, if elected, to correct, in due
course, the handicap of youth.
At the General Election of 1922, Eden had unsuccessfully stood
as Conservative for the Spennymoor Division of Durham. He was
opposed by Labour and Liberal candidates, and secured second
place with 7,576 votes. His first failure had not deterred him, nor
was it a deterrent for his sponsors in Warwick and Leamington.
With characteristic modesty, he told his adoption meeting that,
unfortunately, he lacked the advantage of long political service or
political knowledge and the eloquence and wisdom born of years,
but he did claim an unbounded enthusiasm for the cause. He had
been born and bred in the Conservative tradition and he believed
there was no political creed more worthy of a life of service.
He was engaged to Beatrice Beckett, daughter of Sir Gervase
Beckett, the banker. The wedding was fixed for November 5th,
and the candidate broke off his campaign to go South for the
ceremony at St. Margaret's, Westminster. Two days for the
honeymoon in Sussex, and he was back in the constituency, with
the aura of romance to add to his already considerable pull with
the women voters.
The ties of marriage had involved him in complicated relation-
ships with the tided bearer of the red flag of Socialism. Lady
Warwick was mother-in-law of his sister, Elfrida, wife of Lord
Brooke, heir to the Warwick Earldom. By his own marriage,
Captain Eden had as wife a woman who was at the same time
step-daughter and niece of Lady Warwick's elder daughter, Lady
Marjorie Beckett. These complications completed the diversions
of a domestic interlude in politics. Lady Warwick did not carry her
family with her in her Socialist adventure. Lord Brooke sent his
brother-in-law a note of support: "As you know, I am not a par-
ticular partisan of any party, but on this occasion I am heartily with
you in your endeavour." The Hon. Louis Greville gave similar
As the contest was nearing the end, polling was deferred by
the dissolution of Parliament. Stanley Baldwin, recently become
Prime Minister in succession to Bonar Law, had decided on a
26 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
general election, and the Warwick and Leamington campaign had
to be begun again from the beginning. Baldwin had gone to the
country to obtain a mandate for imposing tariffs, and Captain Eden
found that his Liberal opponent had gained the advantages of the
old rallying cries of Free Trade. The Liberal colours were borne
by a Mr. George Nicholls, who received much less of the limelight
than the Countess, but who had the satisfaction of polling nearly
three times as many votes.
The outcome of the contest was a problem for the prophets.
Sir Ernest Pollock had been returned unopposed since 1910, and
there was the unknown quantity of the women's vote 18,000
women electors, and scarcely a clue as to which way their choice
would fall. Here, it was thought, the young Captain, undeniably
good-looking and impeccably dressed, would have the advantage.
The campaign had exhausted the interest of the electorate in the
two months to which it was prolonged. It ended in an anti-climax,
with no more than 200 persons gathered outside the old Shire Hall
to hear the result and raise a mild cheer at Eden's success. He was
returned with 16,000 votes, that just exceeded the combined total
of his Liberal and Socialist opponents. Lady Warwick had found
no more than 4,000 supporters.
So it befell that at the age of twenty-six Captain Anthony
Eden, M.C., went to Westminster to represent the electors of
Warwick and Leamington. It was also his privilege to do duty for
the electors of Stratford-upon-Avon, and those with a taste for
the Shakesperian quotation found phrases to greet "this other
The General Election in which young Eden was first returned
to Parliament had ended with less satisfaction for his leader. The
Conservatives were in a minority to combined Labour and Liberal
forces. Stanley Baldwin resigned, and Ramsay MacDonald reigned
in his stead.
There have been great parliamentary figures who have made a
name for themselves on first rising to address the House of Com-
mons. No presage of fame marked Eden's debut. He had sat in his
place on the Opposition benches for less than a month before he
rose to catch the Speaker's eye. He chose for the occasion a debate
on the air defence of Britain, some prophetic sense guiding his
choice. Defending Britain from the danger of the marauding
THE PARLIAMENTARY NOVICE 2J
bomber was to become a problem that was gready to exercise his
mind in the future. In 1924 it was already beginning to be a matter
for concern amongst the Conservatives. Ramsay MacDonald,
pacifist leader in the first war, and his party, were not sound on
military matters, and on February 19, 1924, Samuel Hoare
(Lord Templewood) moved a motion recommending that it was
imperative to maintain an air defence force of sufficient strength
to give adequate defence against attack by the strongest air force
within striking distance of our shores.
The Government spokesman, resisting the motion, favoured the
opinion that preparedness was not a good weapon of defence. It
provided an easy opening for the young Member. Preparedness,
retorted Eden, might not be a good weapon, but unpreparedness
was a very much worse one.
"It is a natural temptation for members opposite," Eden went
on, "whose views on defence were fairly well known during the
years of the war, to adopt the attitude of that very useful animal
the terrier, and roll on their backs and wave their paws in the air
with a pathetic expression. That is not the line by which we can
insure this country against attack from the air."
It was a neat little speech, adequate for the occasion of intro-
ducing the member for Warwick to his fellow members. He had
begun his career as parliamentary speaker in a pleasantly effective
fashion. Except that it was his maiden effort, it would scarcely be
remembered among the scores of speeches he has made since. Air
defence was scarcely a burning question in the middle Twenties.
A dozen years later, in more dangerous days, he could have recalled
that he had devoted his first speech in the House to urging upon the
Socialists the necessity for defending Britain against the greatest
peril of modern war. In the Thirties he was to serve in Governments
not conspicuously successful in applying the advice he had given in
his maiden speech.
He spoke again on air defence a few weeks later, without making
any striking contribution to the discussion. Then in April he joined
in a Foreign Affairs debate. The subject was Turkey, and he was
heard to much better effect in a simple but effective plea for the
cultivation of friendship with the new Turkey that was evolving
under Kemal Ataturk. He also intervened to raise a point about the
affairs of Persia. His speeches, on subjects on which he had personal
28 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
knowledge, were delivered with an assurance of manner unusual
in so young a member.
The life of his first Parliament was too short for him to make
a name for himself Having submitted to the humiliations of
minority government for little more than half a year, MacDonald
decided to invite the electors to give him power as well as office.
They refused him either. In the 1924 election, the Red Letter
Election, opinion ran decisively against the Socialists. The member
for Warwick and Leamington had no difficulty in securing re-
election. He returned to Westminster as one of the 400 members
supporting the second administration of Stanley Baldwin.
Anthony Eden completed his parliamentary apprenticeship in
the 1924 Parliament. It was a parliament that began with crises on
coal, rose to its climax with the General Strike, and faded out in the
atmosphere of tranquillity. Baldwin was the dominating figure,
Baldwin of the first phase, the man who worked to restore the
quality of British politics, and who set himself to quell the clamour
of class war. He set the tone in that most moving of his speeches
appealing for industrial peace that ended with the re-echoing of
the ancient prayer, "Give peace in our time, O Lord."
On no mind did the Baldwin message make a deeper impression
than on Anthony Eden. The idealist in him was stirred by the
restatement of the Tory creed that placed the emphasis on the
things of permanent worth, rising above the cries of party
freedom of speech, liberty of conscience, the amity of the classes
under democracy. There are turns of thought and of phrase in the
later-day speeches of Anthony Eden that can be traced back to the
speeches Baldwin made during the 1924 Parliament.
Eden began his novitiate as Parliamentary Private Secretary
attached to the Home Office team. The Under-Secretary was
Godfrey Locker-Lampson, who took the young man under his
wing. The Minister was Sir William Joynson Hicks "Jfc 5 -" to his
friends and the cartoonists, the jaunty figure in a frock-coat, breezy
and boisterous, leader of the Evangelical laity of the Church of
England, zealous watch dog against the machinations of the
"Bolshies". "Jix" was an admirable example to study in the conduct
of parliamentary affairs, a party pugilist who, by his good temper
arid easy manner, commended himself to the House.
The Parliamentary Private Secretary is no great figure at
THE PARLIAMENTARY NOVICE 29
Westminster. He represents the lowest form of ministerial existence
in the chrysalis stage. He holds an appointment under his chief
without profit or prestige. He gains no voice in the conduct of
the affairs of the minister to whom he is attached. He accepts some
sacrifice of independence of action and freedom of speech. Many
men have risen to eminence without passing through this stage of
novitiate. None the less, young aspirants to political advancement
covet the humble accolade of the P.P.S.
In the summer of 1925 young Eden found a change from his
attendance at Westminster in a trip across the world. Through his
father-in-law's influence, he was appointed representative of the
"Yorkshire Post" to attend the Imperial Press Conference held in
Melbourne. He made use of the occasion to gain acquaintance with
the people who live in lands whose place on the map used to be
coloured red for British Empire. He travelled by way of Canada
and the Pacific to New Zealand and Australia. On the way home
he made a short call at Ceylon.
His impressions furnished matter for a series of articles that
appeared in the "Yorkshire Post", and these in turn provided
material for a book, "Place in the Sun", that appeared in 1926 with a
commendatory foreword from the Prime Minister. "Captain Eden/*
Baldwin wrote, "has set a good example, not only in having taken
advantage of the opportunity afforded of seeing so much of the
Empire, but also in having so fully recorded his impressions. If his
articles should lead others to follow that example, he will, I know,
feel richly rewarded."
Readers of the book may also feel slightly puzzled over the
author of those dispatches. They are made up of guide-book
information, some reflections neither original nor startling, on such
imperial subjects as emigration and tariffs, with an occasional
paragraph that brings the scene he is describing quite vividly to life.
The reader concludes that Captain Eden was stirred into originality
only through his artistic sense, for it is invariably the scene and its
colourings that charge his pen.
Thus he sailed the broad waters of the St. Lawrence, approach-
ing Quebec through a mist. The ship glided over the glassy surface
of the river and Eden was conscious of "a silence in which thought
travels slowly". As he crossed the prosperous farmlands of the
Dominion he looked upward and realized that he was in a "country
3O SIR ANTHONY EDEN
of painters' skies skies to make a painter's palate itch". At twilight
a haze descended over the prairie, mellowing in its hues, and the
setting sun "slashes the sky with orange and with gold".
From Vancouver he set out on the twenty days' voyage south
across the Pacific a "lovely" sea and a "silken" sea, most wonder-
ful at sunset when for short minutes the sky is aflame with rainbow
glory. A few hours he passed at Honolulu amongst the islands of
flowers "the golden shower, true to its name, the scarlet poinciana
dripping red blood, the hibiscus in all colours and all shades, and
the royal palm".
In New Zealand he was suitably impressed by the imperial
aspect of affairs, but it was the beauty of the scenes that moved him,
and he has an anecdote to pass on, one of the few stories in the Eden
saga: "An English visitor found himself seated next to a distin-
guished Maori at a public function. In the course of conversation
the Maori remarked, 'You may be surprised to hear that I have
Scottish blood in my veins/ 1 am indeed/ replied the Englishman.
*Well, as a matter of fact, my grandfather had a Scottish Wesleyan
missionary for dinner/ "
Over the beauty of Sydney Harbour Eden became eloquent,
and over the charm lurking in its innumerable coves and beaches
"as a honeymoon harbour it is unequalled". The train journey to
the Blue Mountains took him through the great expanse of Aus-
tralian bush "wide valleys wrapped in a blue haze, the blue and
green and silver of the gum trees". After these glimpses the reader
finds it incongruous to read trite passages on the sheep "shearers
are paid by results and some of them make very good money".
Arrived at Adelaide, Eden noted the Zoological Gardens
"Zoos yield only to racecourses in pride of public estimation in
Australia. If there is a racecourse to every ten Australians, there is
a zoo to every twenty." Then he was off once more on an excursion
As the night draws on twilight lingers after sunset; the graceful
stems, the tufted tops of the tall gum trees, a dark blue-green against
a cloudless sky, a clear and brilliant evening light, the grey-green
saltbush, a lighter undergrowth, opal tints above the sky line long ago
The day is spent and a halt at a wayside station, Karonie perhaps.
THE PARLIAMENTARY NOVICE 31
The evening is hot and close, but still and beautiful through the carriage
window. Through the night comes clearly the swaying jangle of a bell,
a sound that has but one interpretation. Peering into the evening night
in the bush we see at a little distance a cloud of dust and hear the familiar
shamble of a hundred feet. As our eyes grow accustomed to the gloom,
the camels themselves are visible, the long shuffling string, grunting
And softly through the silence beat the bells
Along the Golden Road to Samarkand.
Embedded in the pages of this book are touches like these that
give a hint of the existence of an Anthony Eden rarely exposed to
the public view. Through the arid wastes of Hansard you may look
in vain for glimpses of the artistic Eden tantalizingly glimpsed in
these despatches of travel, the Eden unknown to weighty platitudes
of Foreign Office pronouncements, who has an artistic sensitivity
to colour and beauty and an author's delight in the turn of a phrase.
It was a distinction for the young M.P. to have a book to his
credit, a book backed by the recommendation of the Prime
Minister. They began to speak of young Eden as Baldwin's protege.
Eden continued in his second Parliament as he had begun in the
first. He had no reluctance to join in the debates, but he intervened
when he could contribute something drawn from his own personal
The speeches of M.P.s during their 'prentice years are not often
worthy of later study. Eden's contribution to the debate on Irak's
frontiers in December 1925 has an interest for his admirers. It
showed his advance as parliamentary speaker. There is disclosed,
even in the printed page, an ease and facility that was previously
lacking. It is of interest, too, for establishing the speaker, even at
that early stage in his career, as a League of Nations man.
The occasion was well chosen. Irak and Turkey were subjects
on which Eden could speak with the backing of knowledge. It was
a debate that had been opened by the Prime Minister, who was
seeking the approval of the House for the boundaries for the
new Arab state that had been created in Mesopotamia, and for
the continuance of the British protection under which it had been
placed. Eden's contribution was not one that turned the views
32 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
of an adverse House of Commons the Government's majority
was never in doubt but his remarks were of the temper to
commend the speaker to Stanley Baldwin.
Advocating the continuance of British protection for the young
Arab kingdom, Eden said that we had placed the country with its
forelegs in one civilization and its hind legs in another. For us to
scuttle, at that stage, like flying curs frightened at the sight of our own
shadow, would do vast damage to British prestige in the Orient.
Our name would be a jibe in the mouth of every tavern-lounger
from Marrakesh to Singapore. But while the Government should
stand by Irak they should extend the hand of friendship and con-
ciliation to Turkey, so that we might retain the goodwill of the
In his final passage, Eden tilted at the Press Lords, Beaverbrook
and Rothermere, who were in favour of scuttling out of the
Middle East on the ground of expense. The Russians, then as now,
ready to stir up trouble, had been counselling the Turks against
acceptance of Irak's frontiers.
"There," said Anthony Eden, "is indeed an unholy alliance, a
marriage bed upon which even the most hardened of us must blush
to look, and we may well wonder how far this alliance is to go. Are
we to see Bolsheviks perusing the columns of the 'Daily Express*,
and noble Lords bustling into Fleet Street in Russian boots?"
The speech confirmed the good impression that had been made
by the member for "Warwick, and it led to his first contact with the
department in which he established his reputation. His bent towards
foreign affairs was already clearly marked, and he was invited to
transfer himself from the Home Office to the Foreign Office as
P.P.S. to Sir Austen Chamberlain.
There is no disposition to mark Austen Chamberlain among the
great Foreign Secretaries. The aura has long since vanished from
Locarno, but in 1926 he stood at the mid-summer of his success.
Europe had acclaimed him as the negotiator of treaties that were
thought to have laid the foundations for Europe's peace.
Here, again, Eden was fortunate in his mentor. Austen was a
Conservative who brought to politics the traditions of the old
school. He had inherited little of the political force of his father, the
turbulent Radical from Birmingham, who ended his career as the
great Imperialist. On two occasions Austen's high sense of honour
At Nawton Tower in
1938 with Mrs. Eden
and in 1951 with his
younger son, Nicholas,
who had just completed
his service in his father s
old Corps. His elder son,
Simon, was killed on
active service as pilot-
officer in Burma in 1945
THE PUBLIC SPEAKER
Above, before the Conservative Party Conference at Brighton, and, below, two wartime
pictures. From the sandbag-fronted platform he was addressing Indian troops at Cairo
THE PARLIAMENTARY NOVICE 33
robbed him. of succession to the leadership of the Conservative
Party and the Premiership that was the summit of his life's ambition.
At the last he had the satisfaction of seeing the ultimate honour that
had eluded him fall upon his father's younger son, Neville, his
A fine estimate of Chamberlain's character is presented by Leo
Amery, who wrote of his old colleague: "He was one of those men
the very backbone of England who, born and bred in the tradi-
tion of public service, have given their lives to the faithful fulfilment
of their duty as it came to them, and to the maintenance of the
standards they set before themselves His weakness as a politician
was an exaggerated sensitiveness to the idea of being thought self-
seeking or disloyal." You would not be going far wrong were you
to transfer this estimate from Austen to Anthony Eden. To it
Amery adds that Chamberlain's achievement at Locarno was
"mainly due to his patience and tact and to that 'plain good intent*
which Burke rated above all other qualities". Here again, the words
may be transferred from the old Minister to his successor. Those
same qualities of tact and patience, with his own charm in personal
contacts, grew to promote and distinguish Eden's work as Foreign
During the years of his novitiate Eden was the close observer
of Austen Chamberlain's patient efforts to find a line of policy that
would satisfy German aspirations, and at the same time remove
French anxieties. French fears were then fixed on the future that
time, ten years ahead, when by virtue of population German soldiers
must inevitably outnumber the French. "I look forward," said one
French Premier, "with terror." When the term of years had
passed it was Eden who was to be faced with the actuality of
France's worst apprehensions realized a Germany re-armed and
aggressive, bent on reversing the Allied victory in 1918.
In the Twenties, Austen could sympathize with France's desire
for security and for assurances of British assistance in case of need.
But to meet French desires he could not go beyond the limits set
by British opinion that was beginning to flow against the French.
Feeling was turning from the Ally by whose side we had fought
and sympathy was growing for the enemy the Allies had defeated.
There were suspicions against France. Against these young
Mr. Eden might protest, but he would not be able to remove them.
34 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
Looking back over Anglo-French relations in the ten years that
followed 1918, he was driven to one firm conclusion: "On every
occasion when the outlook for peace in Europe has been the least
happy, it has been the occasion when our relations with France have
been the least happy."
Had this conclusion formed the basis of British policy in the
ten years after 1928, the course of world history would have been
different. But then the Pacts of Locarno marked the limit of what
British opinion would permit pacts involving guarantees to
Germany as well as France of aid in the case of unprovoked aggres-
sion. At the time this seemed adequate against any foreseeable
eventualities. With French aspirations thus met, and Germany
restored to the comity of Europe as a member of the League, Sir
Austen, with his Parliamentary Private Secretary, had ground for
crediting that the people of Europe could go about their business
in a Continent free from tension. But, even as the signatures had
been affixed to the Pacts of Locarno, the gates of Landsberg Fortress
were opened to restore a prisoner to freedom. The ravens should
have croaked on the battlements that day. Hider had been set at
Tranquillity went out with the 1929 election, both at home and
abroad. Ramsay MacDonald formed his second minority Govern-
ment of Socialists. The world economic blizzard ushered in the
In the 1929 election, when the Tories fared badly, Anthony
Eden had no particular difficulty in holding Warwick and Leaming-
ton. He had consolidated his position in the constituency, following
the usual routine. With his wife, he attended Primrose League
whist drives and dances, Junior Imperial League functions and the
summer round of garden parties and fStes. His constituents had
been gratified to follow his progress at Westminster and to hear the
good opinions expressed about him. Thus T. P. O'Connor, Father
of the House "I heard an excellent speech from a young fellow
named Eden member for the Warwick and Leamington division ;
he will go far." Warwick and Leamington shared their member's
In those days, electioneering for Eden meant a tiring round of
speeches in the scattered villages of South Warwickshire, for the
division then included Stratford-upon-Avon and district, as well
THE PARLIAMENTARY NOVICE 35
as Warwick, Leamington and Kenilworth. He now recalls those
early days as something of a desperate attempt to rally rural support,
and he has been heard to refer to that meeting at such and such
a village "in the wilds of Warwickshire where the audience one
night consisted of only the chairman and two reporters from local
papers". It is doubtful if the attendance was ever as bad as that, but
it is characteristic of him that he should have suggested that there
was a time when he could not attract even a village audience.
TN August 1931 the first National Government was formed by
JLRamsay MacDonald and Anthony Eden found a place in it as
Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs. It was the beginning of a
connection with the Foreign Office that continued, in a succession
of appointments, until he resigned the office of Foreign Secretary
seven years later. By that time, the unknown junior minister was
a European figure, champion of the League of Nations and pro-
tagonist at Geneva with Mussolini and Hitler,
The world trade depression had called the National Government
into being. When Britain was faced with bankruptcy, members of
the Labour Government had not been prepared to impose the cuts
that had been recommended in national expenditure. MacDonald
resigned office, and was reappointed as head of a government
supported by Conservatives, Liberals and a handful of Labour
members. Elder statesmen were called upon to take office to give
the prestige of their names to an administration that was to take
unpopular measures to restore our national credit.
To the Foreign Office went the Marquess of Reading, the
ex-cabin boy, who had advanced by way of the law and the Lord
Chief Justiceship to the Viceroyalty of India. As his Under-
secretary there served the member for Warwick and Leamington.
Eden's appointment was carried out in this manner. The names
of a number of candidates considered to be suitable for the post
were put down on a sheet of paper. This was placed before the
Marquess to choose one from among them as his junior. It is some-
thing after this fashion that Sheriffs are selected at the annual
ceremony of pricking with the bodkin. Much more than the
under-secretaryship hung in the balance as Lord Reading hesitated
over the names. His choice fell upon Anthony Eden.
Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs it was a distinction for
a young M.P. with no more than eight years' membership of the
House. There were many who envied him, and some who thought
they had better claims to the post. He was not merely junior
JUNIOR MINISTER 37
minister of the Crown, but his chief was a member of the Upper
House, so that his was the responsibility to speak for the department
in the Commons.
The immediate concern of those days was not foreign affairs,
but economics and saving money. These were matters for other
Ministries, but they were to have a powerful influence on the
problems that Eden was to be called upon to face.
Britain had been badly shaken by the money crisis. The flight
from the ; had placed Britain's credit in danger. The world was
losing confidence in our ability to pay for what we were buying.
The alarm caused by those crisis days persisted long after the
emergency had passed. Cuts in the salaries of state servants, cuts in
the dole for the workless, estimates pruned here, economies made
there in the great spending departments. Nations on the Continent
might be re-arming, expanding their air forces, buying guns
instead of butter. Britain was otherwise engaged. Meanwhile,
across the Channel, Hitler, with his Brownshirts, was bludgeoning
his way to power.
When the emergency programme had provided immediate
relief, a General Election was held. The National Government
needed the nation's mandate to continue the job of setting the
country's financial house in order. There was uncertainty as to the
outcome. Rigid economy and cuts do not form an appealing pro-
gramme, but it is never the hard task that depresses the British
elector. Eden was engaged by one opponent, C. G. Garton, the
Labour nominee, and he was given a thumping majority 38,584
votes in his favour, 29,323 over the Socialist.
He made a triumphal appearance at the window of the Con-
servative Club to say: "I think this is the best day's work for
England we have ever done. Those who think England down and
out will have to revise their opinions. "We in England have the best
political instinct of any race, and to-day we have shown that we
know what to do in a crisis."
Back at Westminster Eden soon found himself provided with
a new chief. Sir John Simon brought to the Foreign Office the
advantage of a reputation then at its peak for ability and statesman-
ship. It was fifteen years since he had held office. He, like Churchill,
had been a member of Asquith's Government, that almost legendary
administration, the best equipped in brains since the Ministry of
38 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
All the Talents. Since the death of Birkenhead F. E. Smith was
his contemporary at Oxford he was acknowledged to have the
best legal brain of his day. He had won new distinction as chairman
of the Commission that had recently reported on the future of the
Government of India. His appointment to the Foreign Office was
widely praised, but he was to establish that incomparable talents in
speaking to a brief are not enough to turn a lawyer into a Minister
for Foreign Affairs. He conducted international cases, rather than
foreign policy. As a man he suffered the handicap of lacking the
genial glow of humanity. Of one of his most effective speeches,
Winterton remarked that it was brilliant but "coldly chiselled".
That was Simon, a man of ability and brains, but coldly chiselled.
For a young Minister at the outset of his career, Simon was one
from whom there was much to be learned. He brought to his work
the clearest understanding. Nothing was too complex for him to
grasp and to explain in addresses that were a model of lucidity.
The difficulty, sometimes, as one listened to his exposition of both
sides of a case, was to determine to which of so judicially balanced
arguments his own opinion swung. Baldwin was driven to remark
that the P.O. seemed to be pursuing two policies one pro-French
and one pro-German. Baldwin would have preferred less marshall-
ing of confusing arguments and greater certainty in conclusions.
When Simon took over the Foreign Office, the days of the
Locarno era were running out. Meditating on the uneasy state of
Europe, Anthony Eden was very conscious that the hopes of
Locarno had not fructified. For why? It might be that the seekers
after peace had been neglectful of essentials.
He made an analysis of affairs for the benefit of members of the
Rhodes Trust assembled for dinner in 1932. While one-half of
Europe had been dominated by apprehension (the French) and the
other by impatience (Germany and Italy) there had been the
tendency to pay too much attention to the mechanics of peace and
too little to its fundamentals.
"There is," he pronounced, "no real substitute for understand-
ing. When nations drift apart it is of no use to construct elaborate
machinery for which there is no immediate call. Indeed, that
machinery may get in the way. You cannot make peace by machi-
nery. In the last resort it is the spirit, not the mechanics, that count.
As I have watched some of those ingenious contrivances that have
JUNIOR MINISTER 39
occupied the minds of international statesmen for too long, while
the more sinister spirits of a selfish nationalism and an outworn
jingoism were gaining influence in the background, I have been
made sad by their futility. As well use a mouse-trap to catch a
Not many months were to pass before the mouse-traps were
out at Geneva and he was to be given a demonstration of the
soundness of his metaphor.
Later that year (1932) Eden began his regular attendances at
Geneva as substitute British delegate at the Disarmament Con-
ference. It was a duty that might have confirmed him in his dis-
paragement of international efforts towards peace-making when
the fundamental of good intention was not universal among the
All the trumpets of rhetoric had blared at the opening of the
Disarmament Conference in February 1932, but as a contribution
to disarmament the long-drawn-out discussions that followed were
fruitless. Three of the participants had not intended to disarm. The
Germans, claiming equality of rights with the other powers, had
already begun to move towards equality in arms, in despite of the
Treaty of Versailles. The French sheltered themselves behind the
phrase equality of rights in a regime of security, and security for
a Frenchman meant strength in arms. In Italy there had been
bellicose noises for some time past, and Mussolini had need for arms
to carry out plans that were maturing in his mind.
For a while the difficulties acted as a spur for the delegates.
Germany withdrew from the Conference as a protest against a
position of inferiority. A way must be found to bring the Germans
back. There were earnest discussions, proposals and counter-
proposals. Eden was engaged with the world's diplomats in efforts
to find a compromise.
The French put forward a scheme. Whatever its effect on
armaments, it would have ensured security for France. Britain
would have been committed, automatically, to take part in a war
against a declared aggressor and to place her Navy at the disposal
of the League of Nations. The British Government were not
prepared to commit themselves thus far. Eden announced the
rejection of the French scheme.
"My Government," he said, "considers that in its membership
4O SIR ANTHONY EDEN
of the League and its signature of the Locarno Treaties it has gone
as far as it could, and should, in assuming definite commitments in
Europe. I believe the public opinion of my country is unalterably
opposed to Britain undertaking new obligations."
The search for a compromise continued. Ramsay MacDonald
arrived at Geneva in person with a new scheme in his pocket. The
arrival of the British Prime Minister, attended by the Foreign
Secretary, caused a flurry of interest. He unfolded a plan complete
with concrete figures. It allotted arms and effectives according to
the importance and population of states 200,000 men for Germany,
France and Italy, 500,000 men for Russia.
Eden was left to take charge of the British Draft Convention.
He met Herr Nadolny, who voiced German objections. He called on
M. Massigli, who proposed French amendments. He went home to
report and returned to resume his round of calls at Geneva. The
Germans stood out for recognition of equality of rights. Eden could
promise no sympathy for the Germans unless they were prepared
not to re-arm. Disarmament, he said, was to be achieved down
to the German level.
The interminable discussions continued. Disarmament might
be brought no nearer, but the young Minister was learning the
business of diplomacy in the best school, gaining an experience
from contact with such men as Paul Boncour, Baron von Neurath,
Chancellor Dollfus, the pocket dictator, Baron Aloisi, Dr. Benes,
M. Titulesco and the United States observer, Norman Davis. Eden
became at home at Geneva. He was, at this period, spending more
time in his Victorian sitting-room in the Hotel beau Rivage than
in his study in London.
Hitler came to power. The negotiations at Geneva went on
fitfully, while in Germany the Nazi Revolution proceeded with
gathering momentum. So too did German rearmament. The pro-
ceedings at Geneva became a nullity. The Japanese, censured for
aggression in Manchuria, left the League of Nations. Hitler, a few
months later, followed them out.
As Anthony Eden cast his eyes over Europe at the close of 1933,
he could not but note that doubting, questioning glances were
being flung across frontiers. The atmosphere was a breeding-ground
of suspicion. There was need for cool judgment, for scaremongers
were the satellites of war.
JUNIOR MINISTER 4!
What now was to be done about the machinery, in particular
the machinery for the collective settlement of disputes known as
the League of Nations? Should it be scrapped?
Giving his answer to this question to a League of Nations
meeting, he said, "No, a thousand times No." "What was needed
for the recovery of confidence in Europe was the removal of the
causes of uneasiness. There had recently come from Berlin declara-
tions of peaceful intent; they were to be welcomed. But there were
disturbing evidences in Germany, the removal of which would do
more to reassure the rest of Europe than any number of speeches.
Eden closed his address with some thoughts about war and a
prophecy. "There is perhaps a special responsibility and a special
opportunity for us who belong to the generation that served in the
late war, and who are still of military age. The present leaders in
Germany belong, many of them, to that generation. It is not only
that we who have seen war are the last to wish it to recur, but it is
with the individual experience we have each of us had we appreciate
only too clearly that a future war must begin where the last war
closed. If the Great War was a struggle in man-power the next war
will be a test of the endurance of the civilian population." It was
a discouraging thought.
LORD PRIVY SEAL
IN 1934 Eden was given increased authority by promotion to
full Ministerial rank, though not of Cabinet status, as Lord Privy
Seal. This office, free of departmental duties, leaves the holder at
liberty to undertake any special work that may be required and
he was seconded to the Foreign Office.
It had long been recognized that the work of the Foreign
Secretary involved burdens scarcely to be undertaken by a single
minister. Balfour had found that the press of affairs was too great
for a single man to bear. Since his day, discussions at Geneva,
requiring the Minister's frequent presence, had added vastly to the
work. On these grounds alone Eden's appointment could have been
justified, but that was not the sole reason that lay behind it.
Already there were murmurings about the inadequacy of Simon.
The Socialists were critical of his handling of affairs, which would
have been of lesser consequence had not Socialists* criticisms been
matters for Conservative misgiving. On both sides of the House
Eden had won approval. Inside the Department the permanent
officials had come to respect him for his application to his work
and his statesmanlike approach. The Lord Privy Seal's promotion
was generally and warmly welcomed.
His first assignment was a mission to Paris, Berlin and Rome.
One further effort was to be made to save the moribund Disarma-
He set out on his travels in February, and stopped at Berlin for
his first meeting with Hitler (February 21). It was in the early days
of the regime and the personality of the Fuehrer had not yet
bloomed in the fullness of its arrogance. He showed himself to be
conciliatory, prepared to agree in principle to the MacDonald plan.
Naturally enough, any proposal was acceptable to him that would
accord Germany a permitted army of double the total allowed
under the limitations of the Peace Treaty. As to aeroplanes, Hitler
was not prepared to exclude them as weapons of war. He asked for
LORD PRIVY SEAL 43
fighter 'planes for defence; bombers, he asserted, Germany did not
require. Hitler offered to conclude a ten years' convention limiting
the German air force during that period to 50 per cent of the French
air force, with a German army on a parity with a French army of
In Rome, five days later, Eden met Mussolini, who counselled
acceptance of the Fuehrer's terms. At his final call in Paris, Eden
could make little headway. The French were courteous but firm.
A country that had been ravaged twice within one generation
could not agree to any disarmament without effective guarantees.
Disarmament? The Germans had been re-arming for years, even
before Hitler had come to power, in defiance of Versailles.
Eden might repeat what the Fuehrer had told him that RShm's
Storm Troops and the Nazi Brownshirts, three million strong, were
no army. It might be so. Nevertheless, German rearmament was
a fact that no French government could ignore.
The first Eden mission had produced no results, except that he
had established contact with the dictators and taken something of
their measure. He did not permit himself to be discouraged. The
work for international co-operation must continue. "What, mean-
while, should be Britain's policy? There were pacifists and idealists
of the Left who called on Britain to disarm whatever the rest of
the world might do. This was a folly that the Lord Privy Seal
denounced in public speech.
He gave his views on arms and realities to an Armistice Day
meeting at Stratford-on-Avon. An unarmed Britain in an armed
world, he said, would place us in a dangerous position. It would
also deprive our representatives of much of their negotiating power
in the councils of the nations. Our weakness would be a temptation
to the predatory instincts of others.
In Britain we believed in collective security based on the
League of Nations. But not all nations belonged to the League, nor
could they all, Germany being one, be counted upon to work the
collective system. If we disarmed while others re-armed, collective
security could not be made effective and the system would be a
snare and a delusion. While we pursued our own ideals we must
pay heed to realities. When political conditions in Europe were
disturbed a strong Britain was a stabilizing element, but a weak
Britain would be an invitation to conflict. So, while supporting the
44 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
League and collective peace, we had reason to look to the needs of
our own defence.
It was an accurate enough analysis of the situation. It was to be
repeated by scores of commentators thereafter. The terms would
be more emphatic but the essential facts had been stated. Events
abroad during 1934, Hitler's second year of power, underlined the
Following the course events took twenty years ago, we must
not make the mistake of attributing the knowledge we have about
Hitler and Mussolini to the statesmen of Europe who had to deal
with them. Looking back now, we can mark each step in Hitler's
progress. But the Hitler of 1934 and his purposes were com-
paratively unknown outside the circle of his intimate associates.
The Fuehrer and his Nazis could then pass for German patriots
whose perfervid nationalism aimed at nothing more sinister than
the restoration of Germany to her former place amongst the
powers. The British people had long since lost any hatred they felt
for their former foe. As Eden said, we have never been good haters.
At home sympathy for the Germans mounted and for the French
declined. The French were coming to be reckoned as tedious in
their suspicions and their intransigence. There was support for
Germany's legitimate aspirations it was postulated that they were
Some insight into the nature of Hitler and his Nazis was given
by the Night of Knives of June 30, 1934. Alleging that a con-
spiracy was on foot to depose him, Hitler rounded up associates
whom he did not trust. They were hurried away to immediate
execution. Rohm was arrested by Hitler himself, to be shot forth-
with. Goering ordered the shooting of the former Chancellor,
General von Schleicher and his wife, and of Gregor Strasser. The
blood bath in Berlin continued throughout the night, as man after
man was lined up before the execution squad.
The shock of the purge had scarcely passed before a new Nazi-
inspired terror was staged in Vienna. Rebels invaded the Govern-
ment buildings and shot the pocket dictator, Dollfuss. Government
buildings were seized, ministers held as hostages and the overthrow
of the Ministry announced by radio. The revolt failed, but days of
uneasiness followed until Mussolini sent three Italian divisions to
the Austrian frontier. Hitler publicly dissociated himself and his
LORD PRIVY SEAL 45
Nazis from the rising, but only the credulous accepted his denial
These were danger signals for Germany's neighbours, indica-
tions of the gangster nature and methods of the new masters of
Germany. Tension in Europe mounted. French opinion hardened
against disarmament and looked for allies on Germany's eastern
frontiers. The British Government grew concerned over national
defence. Baldwin discovered that our frontier was no longer the
white cliffs of Dover, but the Rhine.
That autumn the Lord Privy Seal found relief from the troubles
of the Continent in the calmer atmosphere of Scandinavia. He
visited in turn Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen. To a Swedish
audience he discoursed on Britain's pacific purpose. "We are a
nation of traders and trade needs peace, but sentiment is deeper
than that." By that time, Britain's pacific intentions needed no
commendation. It was the one factor in the European situation that
could be relied upon.
Eden was emerging as one of Europe's younger statesmen.
That winter there were problems for Geneva. Disorders in the Saar
were the cause of concern. That territory was still divorced from
Germany, governed by a League Commission. A plebiscite was to
determine its future. To assist the population towards a decision
the Nazis were employing the method known as peaceful per-
suasion, in which persuasiveness is a euphemism and peace less than
that. Were the situation to get entirely out of hand, the French
might send troops into the Saar as, a few years earlier, they had
marched into the Ruhr. Simon suggested an Anglo-Italian force
to keep the peace, but objections were raised. Eden, from Geneva,
recommended an international force, a proposal backed in the
Cabinet by Neville Chamberlain, that won the Government's
approval. The Lord Privy Seal had the satisfaction of carrying the
League Council in its favour. Shortly afterwards British troops,
with sticks instead of rifles, were to be seen on duty as part of die
international patrol. Order was maintained, and the Saarlanders
eventually voted for returning to Germany.
Another problem for Geneva arose from the Marseilles murders.
In October, Alexander, King of Jugoslavia, together with the
French Foreign Minister, Louis Barthou, was shot dead at Mar-
seilles. The assassin was a Croat travelling with a Hungarian
46 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
passport. The Jugoslavs raised an outcry against the terrorism of
the Hungarians that threatened the peace of the Balkans. A special
session of the Council of the League was summoned and Eden was
appointed rapporteur, with the duty of negotiating a settlement
between the contestants. He was successful in his mediation, and a
minor disturbance was kept within the bounds of peace.
It was a successful close to the Lord Privy Seal's first year. He
had widened his knowledge of affairs. In his negotiations with
statesmen of other nations he had confirmed the good opinions that
had been formed about him at home. He was becoming a familiar
public figure, the impeccably dressed Englishman, who always
bore himself so well. He belonged to that class Henry James had
once described "The sort of young Englishman who looks par-
ticularly well abroad and whose general aspect his inches, his
limbs, his friendly eyes, the modulation of his voice and the fashion
of his garments excites on the part of those who encounter him in
far countries on the ground of common speech a delightful sym-
pathy of race/' At his first appearances at Geneva he had been
thought to be foppish, but the success of his diplomacy turned
Geneva opinion enthusiastically in his favour.
As the year 1935 opened, plans were made for a further meeting
with Hitler. On this occasion, the Lord Privy Seal was to accompany
the Foreign Secretary.
The invitation for the Berlin meeting came from Hitler. It
was readily accepted by the British Cabinet. There was satisfaction
on both sides. The Cabinet had grounds for considering that there
would be the chance of reaching a general settlement with the
Germans. Hitler noted with pride that it would be the first time for
sixty years that a British Foreign Secretary had been received in
Berlin since, that is, Bismarck had met Salisbury and Beaconsfield.
One result of the announcement was an immediate approach by
the Russians with the suggestion that a British Minister should
visit Moscow. If Simon were too occupied with affairs to be able
to spare the time, they would be very happy to receive Eden. The
Russians, who had recently been admitted to the League, had
heard the rumours Ribbentrop was circulating that Hitler was pre-
pared to do a deal with Britain and hence the invitation. The British
Cabinet did not jump at the offer, but it was eventually agreed that
on the conclusion of the Berlin meetings Eden should include
LORD PRIVY SEAL 47
Moscow in a tour of Eastern Europe. For the occasion of the Berlin
discussions, it was considered appropriate that our diplomacy
should be backed by a gesture of force, but in essays of this character
it was Hitler who scored the points.
The Berlin visit was fixed for March 8. With less than a week
to go, the British Government published a White Paper on defence.
This document, that appeared over the initials of the Prime Minister,
stated the grounds for a modest degree of re-armament, and in-
cluded a pointed reference to Germany: "His Majesty's Govern-
ment have welcomed the declarations of the leaders of Germany that
they desire peace. They cannot, however, fail to recognize that not
only the forces, but the spirit in which the population, and especially
the youth of the country is being organized, lend colour to, and sub-
stantiate the general feeling of insecurity which has already been
incontestably generated." Read now, it seems to have been a
characteristic understatement. Read then, it touched off the
pacifist fire. Socialists and Liberals united in deploring a "tactless",
In Berlin there was a tempest of protest. Hitler allowed himself
to be affronted. On the pretext of nursing a sore throat, he retired
to Berchtesgaden. He postponed the British visit. After a few days
in retreat he returned to Berlin to announce that, in defiance of the
Versailles Treaty, the German Government were to reimpose con-
scription and to establish an army of twelve corps and thirty-six
divisions. The announcement was made on March 17, anniversary
of the issue of the 1813 Russian manifesto that had set the signal
for the war of liberation against Napoleon.
France made immediate protest to the League against the
flagrant breach of Versailles. It was expected that the British visit
to Berlin would now be called off. A British Note of mild protest
was despatched, but this protest was softened by the accompanying
query would Hitler now receive John Simon?
The French were taken aback. British sympathizers on the
Continent were distressed. Did the Foreign Secretary not realize
what damage he was doing to waning British prestige? The very-
logic of the situation seemed to require that Britain should decline
to seek any new agreement with the Leader of a state who did not
honour the signature of his predecessors on scraps of paper signed
at Versailles. But there it was for all to read "His Majesty's
48 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
Government wish to be assured that the German Government still
desire the visit to take place with the scope and for the purposes
Did Hitler still want the visit? it was superfluous to ask. What
more could he have hoped for at that moment? A British visit to
Berlin must in the circumstances imply tacit consent to German
treaty-breaking. The fact of the visit was sufficient for Rider's
purpose. He affably consented to receive the visitors.
Simon and Eden found themselves in the presence of a man who
was little inclined towards negotiation, but resolved on the course
he intended to pursue. What effect he produced on Eden is not on
the record, but Simon's impressions we know, and they are in
retrospect curious to read.
Simon drew a contrast between the dictators of Rome and
Berlin the Duce having all the appearance of a dictator and the
Fuehrer lacking in any striking particular. But that he was in the
presence of a man who was a danger to the peace of Europe, Simon
was in no doubt, a man proof against argument, who conceived it
to be his purpose to bring about the rehabilitation of the German
people after the limitations and humiliations of the Treaty, of
Versailles. He was patently dangerous, and more dangerous for
being sincere. Behind the vacuous face Simon saw the fanatic.
To his listeners, for he discoursed at them, Hitler made an
avowal of his intentions, even to the absorption of Austria and the
return of German Colonies. There would be no German co-opera-
tion either in disarmament or in collective security. One fact he let
fall was disturbing, if it was to be credited, that the German air
force had already reached parity of strength with the R.A.F. One
point was made clear Hitler would sign no Eastern Pact with the
Russians. Simon was in favour of an Eastern Locarno, but Hitler
would have no dealings with the Communists, whose creed he
denounced as a danger to Europe.
When they were alone together, having listened to Hitler for
two days, what did they say to each other, the Foreign Secretary
and the Lord Privy Seal? Did Simon tell his junior of the major
conclusion he had reached: If Germany was not going to co-operate
to confirm the solidarity of Europe, then the rest of Europe had
need to co-operate to confirm Europe's peace? Sir John's specula-
tions ranging into the future, even encompassed the possibility of
LORD PRIVY SEAL 49
the British Tories co-operating with the Russian Communists
while the League of Nations thundered applause. Simon had his
moments of vision. He could appreciate the less obvious possi-
bilities of a situation, but he was lacking in the quality that trans-
lates conclusions into appropriate action. Europe co-operating to
contain the Germans within Germany clearly that was the
policy to pursue against a completely non-co-operative Hitler. But
it did not conform with the intentions of the British Cabinet or the
pacifist mood of the British people.
The Soviet Union, to a greater degree than Germany, had
remained outside the comity of Europe. The excesses of the revolu-
tion had raised the Bolshy bogey. Communist claims and Com-
munist intrigue had not alkyed prevailing mistrust. Not until 1934
were the Russians admitted to membership of the League.
Eden's visit was the first to Moscow by a Minister of the
Crown since the Czars. He was accompanied by Lord Cranborne
(now Lord Salisbury), his P.P.S., and a bevy of newspaper corres-
pondents. The Minister was escorted to Moscow by M. Maisky,
Soviet Ambassador in London, who had joined him in Berlin. He
was welcomed to the capital by Litvinov, Commissar for Foreign
Affairs, and by the British Ambassador, Lord Chilston.
That afternoon (March 28) discussions were begun with Litvinov,
who at a reception in the evening bade the Minister formally wel-
come. The visit, he said, marked a milestone in the history of the
relations between the two countries. "I take the liberty of expressing
my personal satisfaction at seeing Mr. Eden here, for, having
worked side by side with him at the table of the League of Nations
on the solution of international problems, I have had many oppor-
tunities of appreciating his personal gifts and high qualities."
The Lord Privy Seal replied that British foreign policy was
based on the League. The essence of the League was universal, and
it was clearly a great gain that a nation covering one-sixth of the
world's surface, and numbering 170 million inhabitants, should
have taken its place -at Geneva. He was confident that peace, which
was the prime object of the policy of Britain, was also the aim of
Russia. The anxious position in Europe, to which Litvinov had
referred, could be improved only by a frank exchange of views
between representatives of the great nations.
The following morning the conversations were continued. It
50 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
was Eden's object to remove Soviet fears, springing from suspicion,
that British policy was deliberately calculated to countenance and
encourage the rapid growth of German armed strength, a belief
that had been strengthened by the circumstance of the Simon visit
to Berlin. His assurances to the contrary were well received, and he
was able to break down the idea that British policy was hostile to
Russia because Britain was politically unsympathetic towards the
There was a meeting with Stalin that afternoon. The two men
seem to have been favourably impressed each by the other, a fact
that was to yield results in the years that lay beyond the barrier of
the future. Molotov as well as Litvinov was of the party, hi the
evening there was a gala performance at the Opera House. Seme-
nova, the leading Russian ballerina, had been brought over from
Turkey to do honour to the British visitors. The unfamiliar sound
in Moscow of * 'God Save the King" was heard, as Eden, with the
other visitors, entered. A thunder of cheers, lasting for several
minutes, followed as they took their seats in the former royal box.
A round of social functions marked the following days. There
was a visit to the Museum of Western Art, and lunch was taken at
Litvinov's country house, the table being graced with a massive
slab of butter on which was carved the famous slogan "Peace is
indivisible". Eden was invited to inspect the new Moscow under-
ground railway, of which his hosts were inordinately proud, and
he was photographed seated in a coach for a ceremonial run over
the course. The visitors were conducted over an aeroplane factory,
and a second gala performance of ballet rounded off the trip.
The official communique was more communicative than the
reticent announcements that customarily conceal the proceedings
at international conferences. It referred to the complete friendliness
and frankness in which the talks had proceeded. Mr. Eden, M.
Molotov and M. Litvinov were of opinion that in the present
international situation it was more than ever necessary to pursue
endeavours to promote the building up of a system of collective
security in Europe. It was emphasized in the conversations with
M. Stalin that the organization of security in Eastern Europe and the
proposed pact of mutual assistance did not aim at the encirclement
of any state, but at the creation of equal security for all participants
and that the participation on the part of Germany and Poland
LORD PRIVY SEAL 51
would, therefore, be welcome as affording the best solution of the
problem. The representatives of the two governments were happy
to note that there was no conflict of interest between them on any
of the main issues of international policy, and that this fact provided
a firm foundation for the development of fruitful collaboration in
the cause of peace.
After his return home Mr. Eden testified to his belief in the
peacefulness of Stalin's immediate intentions. " Whatever the view
we take of the experiment at present being tried in Soviet Russia,"
he said, "I have never been in any country which has more clearly
cause to be fully occupied with work at home for many years to
come. There is much leeway to be made up. An observer would
indeed expect that Soviet Russia for her own sake would be adverse
to anything which would dislocate the machinery which she is so
laboriously building up and no greater dislocation could be imagined
From these readings he found it difficult to share the appre-
hension which appeared to exist in Germany about military aggres-
sion by the Soviet. As he travelled back from Moscow to Warsaw
he was impressed by the vast distances separating Russia from
Germany. As he had flown from Moscow to Berlin he had noted
that the distance across Polish territory was roughly that between
England and Switzerland, This geographical factor reinforced the
conclusion he had reached. Since the re-creation of the great Polish
State the possibility of an aggression by Russia upon Germany had,
he considered, become a geographical anachronism.
In Warsaw he found that there was another evaluation of
possibilities. From Marshal Pilsudski and his Foreign Minister,
Col. Beck, he learned that Poland's policy was based on an expec-
tation that Russians and Germans might engage in war and a
determination not to be involved in such a war if it were to take
place. Their territory was not to be allowed as a passage to become
a battleground for foreign troops. A few years later the same
objections were to become an obstacle at a more critical moment
in Poland's affairs. The future of Czechoslovakia was also discussed,
and here, too, the Poles were non-co-operative. They would be no
parties to the guarantee of Czech frontiers, for was not Polish
Teschen part of Czechoslovakia?
In Prague Dr. Benes was more accommodating, but then the
52 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
Czechs had no claims to make. Their need was support to resist the
claims of others.
His tour completed, Eden left by air for home. His 'plane ran
into heavy snowstorms* in which he received a heavy shaking.
He was nearing collapse when he landed at Cologne, to complete
his journey hy train. The doctors reported that his heart had been
overtaxed by the strain, and that an interval of rest was essential for
him. So it came about that he took no part in the conference at
Stresa that was the next incident in the international time-table,
fateful in its consequences for the peoples and the peace of Europe.
The Stresa meeting was a turning-point in Europe's affairs,
the high-water mark of co-operation against Hitler. They discussed
Hitler and they formed their plans to hold him in check. They
resolved that they would stand in amity to guard the independence
of Austria and to maintain the status quo in Europe. The Stresa front
of Britain, France and Italy would be a barrier against Hiderism,
but beyond Europe their agreement did not extend, and that
limitation was the cause of their undoing.
Mussolini was ready to stand in with Britain and France, but in
return he looked for acquiescence in the execution of his own
designs outside Europe. Already he had struck a bargain with Laval.
France would offer no opposition to his progress in North Africa.
He was marshalling his forces to strike at Abyssinia and extend to
the East the Italian territories of Somaliland and Eritrea.
Mussolini arrived at Stresa prepared to do a deal with Britain,
but, to his surprise, Simon and MacDonald did not raise the question
of Abyssinia with him. Seeing that his military preparations had
been plain for all Europe to note, he assumed that the silence of the
Ministers implied British acquiescence in his African enterprise.
To obtain that acquiescence he had been prepared to bargain, and
since no word was spoken, he made the assumption that the bargain
had been struck in silence.
Simon and MacDonald went home, gratified with the results of
their mission, unconscious of the conclusions that Mussolini had
formed. It was their last joint contribution to affairs. On their
return, MacDonald resigned the Premiership in favour of Baldwin.
Simon, in the ensuing changes, was shunted from the Foreign
Office. Eden, promoted to the Cabinet, was to face the consequences
of the omissions of the British representatives at Stresa.
MEMBER FOR THE LEAGUE
WHEN Ramsay MacDonald gave place to Stanley Baldwin and
the Government was reconstituted in June 1935, Anthony
Eden was plainly marked out for promotion. During his term as
Lord Privy Seal he had consolidated his position at Westminster.
In the professional circles of his department, his ability was acknow-
ledged. He had done well at Geneva, and was esteemed among
Continental statesmen. In the House he was heard with respect that
was not confined to his own party. The note of idealism that could
sometimes be detected behind the phrases of the diplomat made
an appeal to the Liberals and the liberal-minded Socialists. The
younger Conservatives were behind him. The diehards of the party
mistrusted what they termed his "emotionalism", but he was
extending the range of his appeal. Neville Chamberlain conceded
that the young man was coming on rapidly "Not only can he
make a good speech, but he has a good head and what advice he
gives is listened to by the Cabinet."
Baldwin, when he came to pick his team, was uncertain about
the Foreign Office. Simon was booked for transfer to the Home
Office. For his successor at the Foreign Office the choice lay between
Hoare and Eden. The first intention was to reserve Hoare for the
Viceroyalty of India, which was also Sir Samuel's preference, for
Indian affairs had been his province for the past four years. Baldwin,
however, had second thoughts. It was urged upon him that Hoare,
with his success in reconciling Indian differences, was the man to
produce agreements in Europe. Neville Chamberlain gave Hoare
his support on the ground that Eden would profit from experience
in one of the departmental ministries before taking over at the
With characteristic indecision Baldwin left the final choice to
Hoare, who agreed to sink his personal wishes and take the assign-
ment in foreign affairs. He brought to bear on them a fresh outlook,
but one comparatively miinformed. There was the shrewdness,
thoroughness, mastery of detail and the qualities that make for
54 SIR ANTHOKY EDEN
capability that he had inherited from a line of Quaker bankers.
As an able administrator Hoare's reputation was among the highest
one of those men who are able to pass from department to
department, serving in each in turn with exemplary competence.
Was this a sufficient recommendation for the responsibility of the
country's foreign policy at a time that was patently crucial in
The less experience the new chief had of affairs the more need
there was to retain Eden as associate minister. Baldwin agreed and so
it came about that the young man, his protege, was given Cabinet
rank and the appointment of Minister for League of Nations affairs. "
In status, Eden ranked with the Foreign Secretary and he was
accorded full access to despatches and to the staff of the department.
Cranborne (now Lord Salisbury), his Parliamentary Private Secre-
tary, was also promoted and retained at the Foreign Office as an
additional Under-Secretary. By this means the Government was
able to retain the benefit of Eden's experience and the electoral
advantage of the support of that large section of the people who
placed their trust in him and the League.
The two Ministers found no difficulty in agreeing upon the
demarcation of their responsibilities and the manner of their
co-operation. The Prime Minister gave the arrangements his
approval, but there were rumblings of dissent from the critics.
"Dyarchy at the Foreign Office" was the complaint, divided
responsibility, divided councils. Winston Churchill voiced his
protest at the existence of two Foreign Secretaries, quoting the
authority of Lloyd George who, when supporting unity of com-
mand during the war, had said, "It is not a question of one general
being better than another, but of one general being better than
Eden was not prepared to agree that anything in the nature of
dyarchy existed. * 'There are/' he said, "no two kings of Brentford
on one throne, and I am very proud and privileged to be allowed
to work with Sir Samuel Hoare."
The new Foreign Secretary found an embarrassing legacy from
his predecessor. At Hitler's suggestion, Simon had agreed to
negotiate a naval agreement with the Germans. The discussions
took place in London, and Hoare obtained the Cabinet authority to
conclude the agreement by which the Germans agreed to limit their
MEMBER FOR THE LEAGUE 55
fleet to 35 per cent of the British tonnage. When the pact had been
signed there were protests from the French and the Italians that
they had not been sufficiently consulted. The Russians considered
that the re-emergence of a German fleet was a danger to their flank
in the Baltic. There was the fact, too, that Britain had endorsed,
was even a party to, German treaty-breaking.
Eden set out for Paris to make explanations to Laval. He found
the French Minister less disturbed than the Paris newspapers,
although he had to listen to a reproof for condoning and partici-
pating in a further breach of the treaty of Versailles. It was the
more regrettable that it had been announced to the world on the
anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.
From Paris he travelled on to Rome to tackle a grave threat to
Stresa solidarity. Believing that he had been given a free hand,
Mussolini had been pushing ahead with his preparations for an
attack on Abyssinia. He made no secret about his designs, and had
boasted of his intention to wipe out the shameful scar of Adowa and
the massacre of the Italians in 1895. Italian garrisons in Eritrea were
reinforced and 50,000 troops were mobilized.
Abyssinia was a member of the League of Nations, sharing in
the privileges and responsibilities of membership on an equal
footing with Italy and the other member states. When the dispute
over a frontiers incident developed with Italy, the Abyssinians,
availing themselves of their rights, appealed to the League. What
was the Council to do, or rather what were Britain and France to
do? There was no ignoring the appeal. To evade it would mean the
effective end of the League. There were British Ministers who
would have raised no objection. Duff Cooper was one, and he was
no lover of the dictators, who would have had no regrets at the
final dissolution of the "dying corpse at Geneva". But with the
League would go the system of collective security on which British
policy was based.
Eden, accordingly, was instructed by the Cabinet to visit Rome
with an offer for Mussolini. The British Government, as a contri-
bution to a settlement, were prepared to cede a narrow tract of
British Somaliland to give the Abyssinians an outlet to the Red Sea,
and, in return, the Abyssinians were prepared to make concessions
to the Italians.
For all his success in personal contacts, Eden was able to make
56 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
no headway with. Mussolini. The Duce derided the offer. He had
already had experience of the cession of a dozen palm trees and a
strip of desert. He demanded the grant of vastly more territory than
was offered and the control over the rest of Abyssinia in the manner
in which Britain had control of Egypt. He was indignant at British
interference after all, Laval had given him a free hand. "Econom-
ically," interjected Eden. The Duce would not concede that the
correction was accurate.
After some further exchanges, the tone of the discussions
deteriorated. The two men had had no respect for each other and
anger inflamed their dislike. Eden returned home with an enduring
antipathy against the Italian, who, he was heard to mutter, was no
In the House, later, Eden had to answer the critics of his meeting
with Mussolini. "Why, he was asked, was it necessary to call on
a Minister of the Crown to do what the Ambassador in Rome could
have done? The Cabinet, he replied, had chosen that method
because they wished to underline, by a direct message from a
member of the Government, the gravity of their concern at the
course events were taking. It was considered that the chances of
agreement would be to some extent enhanced. In an issue where
the stakes were so important no effort should be spared that could,
to however small an extent, raise the chances of success.
Mr. Churchill had begged him to take care of himself. "It was
very kind and very generous of him? but I think he will agree that
what was at stake was not whether the Government, or individual
members of the Government, should be taken care of, but whether
a settlement could be arrived at. In the circumstances we were
bound to take risks -which, perhaps, in other circumstances, I should
not have been very happy to take myself."
There could be no complaint after this meeting that Italy did
not know where Britain stood. Eden spoke frankly and forcibly.
"I expressed to Mussolini the grave concern of His Majesty's
Government at the turn which events were taking between Italy
and Abyssinia. I said that our reasons were not dictated by our
interests in Africa, but by our membership of the League of Nations."
The British proposal was then explained in detail. "I must regret/*
Eden added drily, "that this suggestion did not commend itself to
Signor Mussolini." He did not elaborate, but the House had
MEMBER FOR THE LEAGUE 57
become aware of the nature of the sharp words that had been ex-
changed and there was general laughter when, later, Hoare remarked
that Mussolini and Eden * 'could not have spoken more plainly to
For the next five months Eden was fully engaged in the Abys-
sinian dispute. He took a leading part in the discussions at Geneva,
in the first phase to find some form of compromise that would stave
off war and later, when Italy had struck, to organize sanctions
against the aggressor. His part in the affair has been criticized on
varying and conflicting grounds that he did too little and that he
did too much. The opponents of the League, the isolationists and
the sympathizers with Italy complained that he stirred up trouble.
At the other end of the scale were the Left Wing critics who could see
nothing but dodgery on the part of Britain, a planned sell-out by
Britain and France to Italy, with Eden and Hoare putting up the
pretence of a sham fight. The idealists of the Left would have been
satisfied with nothing short of a punitive war against Italy.
Eden's policy was to avoid war and to go to any reasonable
lengths to avoid it. The statesman labouring for peace can scarcely
find satisfaction in a policy that would transform a conflict in
Africa into a major war in Europe. It was his misfortune and the
League's undoing that French affairs at that time were in the charge
of Laval, the slippery politician who was finally to be shot as a
traitor. Over Abyssinia his attitude it was largely supported by his
countrymen was grounded not on the ideals of the League, but
on the interests of France. The goodwill of Italy meant that French
divisions need not be retained to guard the Alpine frontier.
Better preserve Italian friendship than Abyssinia. There was,
too, a tincture of resentment over Britain's recent approaches to
Both Eden and Laval were interpreters of the majority opinion
in their respective countries. Both of them failed in their objectives.
From their differences resulted the failure to make the League an
effective instrument against aggression.
On Eden's return from Rome the Cabinet were in no doubt as
to the difficulties ahead. "It is clear," noted Neville Chamberlain,
"that Mussolini has made up his mind to eat up Abyssinia regardless
of treaties, covenants and pacts."
The problem was passed on to Geneva. Eden scored an initial
SIR ANTHONY EDEN
success by compelling Italy to agree to a League inquiry into the
original frontier incident at Wai WaL His colleagues at home
acknowledged that he showed courage and skill in the negotiations.
But the major threat remained. Italian troops awaited only the order
to march. At Geneva the problems and possibilities of sanctions
were explored. There was no unanimity about their employment
should the occasion arise, nor about their effectiveness should they
be decided upon. Eden's conclusion was that they might be useful
It was as well to be prepared.
In London there were anxious discussions with ambassadors and
ministers, representatives of the Dominions, leaders of the Little
Entente, the United States Ambassador. The party leaders were
invited by Hoare to the Foreign Office and the Elder Statesmen,
Austen Chamberlain, Robert Cecil (now Viscount Cecil), and
Winston Churchill. Before he would take part in the discussions,
Winston mischievously enquired what Eden's views might be.
"I will get him to come," said Hoare, and a smiling Eden joined
the conference. "Don't let your diplomacy get ahead of your naval
preparations," was Winston's contribution to the discussions.
The sum of advice received was that Britain should stand by the
League but should not go farther than the French would go with
them. That was not likely to be very far. Neville Chamberlain,
surveying the prospects with a realist eye, thought it unlikely that
Laval would consent to anything that might embroil him with
Italy "yet if Mussolini goes on he will torpedo the League and the
small states in Europe will just race one another to Berlin". There
was the dilemma save the League and crack the Stresa front, or
preserve Stresa solidarity and crack the League. In Berlin, Hitler
was able to foresee advantages whatever the decision.
The discussion at Geneva proceeded. Eden took the lead in the
work of the Council. Laval gave him lukewarm support. Laval was
in a dilemma of his own contrivance. He had pledged himself to
Mussolini and he dared not break with Britain. He deplored what
he termed Eden's fanatical insistence on involving the League
against the Italians.
Time for a settlement yet remained, and there was a measure of
satisfaction in that. Without the League what would the position
have been? "Almost certainly hopeless," Eden replied. "The League
may not be able to prevent all wars, but it does make sure that the
MEMBER FOR THE LEAGUE 59
machinery of arbitration, conciliation and negotiation is used to the
A date in September was fixed when the Assembly would have
to reach a decision on the dispute. Eden's zeal on behalf of the
League intensified Mussolini's disgust. Eden was singled out as
a target for Italian abuse and derision. His well-dressed figure,
languidly portrayed, was made to personify the decadent English
sheltering behind the League of Nations.
In August Parliament rose and Ministers separated for their
holidays. Baldwin went off to Aix. Hoare retired to bed in Norfolk
with arthritis and the draft of the speech he was to deliver at Geneva.
His Foreign Office advisers did not encourage him to pin his faith
on the League, but public opinion was hardening against Italy. He
resolved to give a strong lead to the Assembly, hoping that a
display of * 'League fervour" might deter the Duce.
Eden pursued his kbours for a settlement. There were negoti-
ations in Paris, a scheme, an opportunity for compromise. The
prospects fluctuated from day to day. There was hope there was
no hope, the Duce and his people would commit suicide rather than
In September Cabinet Ministers were recalled from their
holidays. Baldwin was brought back from Aix. Approval was given
to Hoare's speech. The Cabinet would uphold Britain's obligations
under the Covenant.
Eden announced the decision at Geneva a few days later, but it
was Hoare who made the speech of the hour. In his precise style, he
delivered himself of his carefully prepared manifestation of League
fervour: "His Majesty's Government will be second to none to
fulfil within the measure of their capacity the obligations that the
Covenant places upon them. ... In conformity with its precise and
explicit obligations the League stands and my country stands with
it for the collective maintenance of the Covenant in its entirety and
particularly for steady and collective resistance to all acts of unpro-
The delegates were thrilled by Hoare's phrases. The speech
made an impression that surprised its author. It seemed that he
would succeed in making the will of Britain prevail, if not among
the nations, at least among members of the League. Said M.
Herriot: "This is the answer to the speech which I myself made on
60 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
the Covenant at Geneva in 1924. France has been waiting for it
ever since." For sixteen years France had sought the backing of
Britain; then, at the moment Britain was ready to advance, the
French under Laval drew back.
For the moment Mussolini had paused. The Committee of Five
produced another plan. The Abyssinians were prepared for con-
cessions. It began to appear a settlement would be negotiated. Then
Mussolini swept the negotiations aside. Relying on his under-
standing with Laval, he bade defiance to the League. On October 3
Italian troops crossed the Abyssinian frontier.
The world's hopes and fears were now centred in Geneva. The
League of Nations was facing its decisive trial as an instrument for
suppressing war. It had emerged as the only gain achieved by
suffering humanity from the wreckage of the First World War.
Already there were results to its credit, and failures to offset them.
Mussolini had broken the peace by the occupation of Corfu, the
Poles by the seizure of Vilna. League authority had been defied by
the Japanese, who had seized Mukden and set up the puppet state of
There was no evading the challenge on Abyssinia. Ether the
League must prevail against Mussolini or it would be proved
ineffective as the means of checking the aggressor. It was the test
case and the test was made under the least favourable circumstances.
As a world organization it had been crippled at birth by the defec-
tion of the United States. The Japanese had withdrawn, so too had
the Germans. Under Laval the French would take no action that
could with decency be avoided. The responsibility for leading the
League against the aggressor was borne by Britain, and not all
members of the British Government were supporters of an active
As League champion, Eden had behind him the younger
Conservatives. Some Ministers, Baldwin, Neville Chamberlain and
Hoare among them, were in favour of the application of sanctions.
Other Ministers shared the dislike of the High Tories for the peace
palace of Geneva. They quoted the recent declaration of General
Smuts, one of the sponsor founders of the League. "I cannot
visualize the League of Nations as a military machine. It was not
conceived for that purpose, it was not equipped for such functions.
If the attempt is made to transform it into a military machine, into
MEMBER FOR THE LEAGUE 6l
a system to carry on war for the purpose of preventing war, then
I think its fate is sealed."
The omens were not propitious, but under Eden's leadership
the League Council had prepared for the emergency. No time was
lost in formally declaring Italy to be an aggressor state. Sanctions
were to follow. What sanctions? Military sanctions were proposed.
The closing of the Suez Canal and joint operations by the British
and French navies would quickly have ended Mussolini's madness.
The dictator would have toppled from his pedestal.
The ships were there. The British Mediterranean Fleet, reinforced
and at war strength, would have been adequate for the occasion.
Laval would not co-operate. He found a pretext for refusing. By
reinforcing in the Mediterranean, he declared, the British had taken
action outside the League. It was provocative and the French
thereby were absolved from common action.
British Ministers were not prepared to act alone. The advice
they had received from the party leaders, Churchill among them,
had been not to go in action beyond the French. So the chance was
lost. Mussolini had cast 250,000 hostages upon the barren shore
2,000 miles from home. He was not compelled to pay the forfeit.
The lesser measure of economic sanctions was agreed upon, sanc-
tions that Italy would accept, onerous though they might be,
sanctions that did not involve the League in war. Could sanctions
of this nature be effective? Was it not an avowed confession of the
League's weakness, and the virtual end of the League as an instru-
ment for the outlawry of war? The Minister for League Affairs did
That autumn Eden gave his views on the Abyssinian crisis
speaking as one of what was termed the "missing generation".
The ranks of his generation had been decimated by the Great War.
Those who survived held that they had something to contribute to
the political life of the generation, something not to be contributed
by those who had never seen active service.
"We saw war. We do not want to see another. How is another
to be avoided? At present we are in a period of evolution. The
nations are striving to create a system of collective security by
means of which they hope they can outlaw war. The task must
oftentimes be arduous. I know of none more appealing in its essence
to one who has the happiness of mankind at heart. The maintenance
62 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
of peace is the Erst condition of all progress. So let us not lose
Eden might find cause for modest satisfaction. Others did not
share his view, but felt that a great opportunity had been missed.
Under his leadership, it was argued, fifty nations had banded them-
selves against Italian aggression: instead of resolute action they were
committed to the pretence of sham sanctions. Thus Lloyd George:
"First of all there was a great pretence that they were going to take
strong action against ItalyI was taken in for twenty-four hours
myself. Then there were elaborate arrangements to deprive Italy
of those things she could do without."
Eden's argument was that the effect of the sanctions that were
imposed was continuous and cumulative and would ultimately
have an influence in bringing about a cessation of Italian hostilities.
But that postulated that the war would extend over a period of
time. Mussolini was forever urging his Generals to move faster, to
win the race against the paralysis of sanctions,
British interest shifted from Geneva to the constituencies. A
General Election was held in November. Baldwin fought on a pro-
gramme of support for the League and moderate re-armament.
Neville Chamberlain was in favour of an all-out campaign for re-
arming, but he was overruled. Neville at this time had not dedicated
himself to the role of apostle of appeasement.
Abyssinia, Italy and the League were the main topics for
electoral rhetoric. The part the young Minister for the League had
taken at Geneva contributed materially to the Government's cause.
He was the champion of the League, the man of the moment, the
most popular politician in the country. Even political opponents
sounded his praises. The rancorous Snowden, whose tongue was
more inclined to the caustic, paid him a warm personal tribute.
Lloyd George excused what he termed the ineffectiveness of League
action on the ground that Eden had not been given a free hand.
JEden was the figure of the hour and his words were received with
"It is fashionable," he said to one rapdy attentive audience, with
kindly jest at his leader Baldwin, "for politicians to look forward to
retirement to pigs, poultry and a pot of ale by the hearthside.
I promise to allow myself no such indulgence. We are all moving
into an era when nations will strive to understand one another.
MEMBER FOR THE LEAGUE 63
Through the League alone can we hope to create in the world that
new order as a result of which no nation would ever contemplate
for an instant the use of war as an instrument of national policy.
We are ready at all times to play our part in the maintenance of
peace. We must attain this or perish. We saw war. We do not wish
to see another. The League affords us the means to avoid the
repetition of such a situation."
The electors gave Baldwin the tribute of a handsome vote of
confidence. The Socialist representation was not as embarrassingly
slight as in the previous House of Commons, but the Government
still had a two to one majority. The diversions of electioneering
over, Ministers could resume their search for a compromise that
would bring to an end the fighting in Abyssinia. At Geneva, Eden
went ahead with the application and extension of sanctions. The
whole conception of the new peace system was at stake. There were
rumblings from Mussolini. There were those who thought that he
might attack Britain.
It was the possibility of progress towards a compromise that
drew a reluctant Hoare to Paris in December. Laval had worked out
a plan. Hoare and Vansittart studied it. Two days of discussion
followed, Vansittart assisting his Chief. Hoare was induced to
agree. The proposals were sent to London. With Hoare's backing
behind them they were endorsed, though with reluctance, by the
Cabinet. They involved the surrender of large tracts of Abyssinia.
Before they were submitted to Haile Selassie they were divulged in
the Press. There was an immediate storm of protest.
The Hoare-Laval plan would have accorded to Italy territories
beyond those demanded by Mussolini before hostilities began. It
would have left some territories for Haile Selassie to rule over,
which was more than he had when hostilities eventually ended
When the plan was made public, and it was seen that, despite all the
fine words, the censures and the sanctions at Geneva, the Duce was
to be allowed to enjoy the fruits of his aggression, there was a public
outcry. Letters of protest poured into the newspaper offices. The
champions of the League rose with the fury of betrayed idealists.
At Westminster the loyalty of many Government supporters could
no longer be relied upon,
It was rumoured that Eden had offered his resignation as a
protest at the Laval plan. The fact that he was summoned to
64 SIR ANTHONY BDEN
Buckingham Palace for an audience with the King seemed to give
colour to the report. Eden indignantly repudiated the suggestion.
There had never been the shadow of a difference between himself
and Hoare. "If in truth I had been in constant disagreement with
him. what a poor sort of creature I must be still to be occupying my
position on the Treasury bench."
Dissatisfaction in the House reached the pitch where the Govern-
ment was in danger. The Cabinet was forced to retreat. Approval
of the Paris plan was cancelled. The Ministry survived. Sir Samuel
Baldwin, who had stood before the House as a penitent mur-
muring "peccavi", was badly hit. His biographer tells us that he had
the appearance of a man who had been crushed; he had been struck
at his most sensitive point, he had failed to interpret the feelings of
the British people, he who prided himself on being their most
sensitive and skilled interpreter. He had fallen in the estimation of
the country, badly shaken in prestige.
A successor for Hoare had to be chosen. There was litde question
as to the choice. Eden's reputation had not been affected by the
crisis. In the public eye he was the champion of the League. He was
summoned to Downing Street. The question of the succession was
placed before him. He suggested that his old Chief should be
brought back to fill the vacancy and he offered to serve under
Austen Chamberlain. Baldwin had already taken the advice of the
architect of Locarno and put to him the question: What do you
think about Eden? Austen had retained his kindly interest in the
young man he had launched in public life. He had no hesitation in
replying that he had always looked on Eden as having the makings
of a Foreign Minister.
The post was offered and accepted. So it came about that three
days before Christmas in the year 1935, Anthony Eden became His
Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He was then thirty-
eight years of age, the youngest holder of his office since Lord
Greville in 1791.
The appointment was well received by the younger Conserva-
tives, but there were mutterings among the elders, the anti-League
men and the isolationists. The High Tories had no liking for being
dragged by Eden the idealist along the path of collective security.
Six months before, they had looked to Hoare to prevent him from
The impeccably attired young
Minister, in white waistcoat
and carrying his famous Ham-
burg hat, is in disguise as an
airman about to lead his
squadron No. 500 (County
of Kent) Auxiliary in exer-
cises from their camp at
In battledress he takes
part in an exercise of
Above, as Foreign Secretary during the war he is seen with Lloyd George
and Ivan Maisky, Soviet Ambassador, at a Red Army Birthday Celebration. Below he
is with French Ministers, including the notorious Pierre Laval
MEMBER FOR THE LEAGUE 65
landing us in a mess at Geneva. Now Hoare was gone and Eden
was in control There must be a steadying influence. The system of
dyarchy was continued with Lord Halifax in the junior role. There
was no figure more respected by the Tories than the tall and stately
Halifax, who had returned from India with the prestige of a
successful Viceroy. Baldwin's closest friend, High Churchman, of
high principles and strength of character, he was the man the older
Conservatives would have preferred at the Foreign Office. It was
reassuring to know that he was at hand to give balance and stability
to the young idealist.
IN the chronicling of a career it is easy to turn the page and start
a new chapter for a new phase. For Eden in his new appointment
there was no such opportunity. There was no new chapter, but the
continuance of the old with its confusions, its uncertainties and its
menaces. The situation was inherited and so was the policy. No
fresh start could be made. From the predicament in which they
were involved there was no immediate escape. Italy had not been
halted, Abyssinia had not been saved, the Stresa front was in ruins,
the League in decline. Britain's prestige was little above Geneva's.
The bluff of the Hoare speech had been called, Mussolini had been
proved correct in his assessment of the chances.
Looking back, it now seems it would have been better that
Baldwin and his Government, not Hoare alone, should have
resigned. A new approach would have been preferable, since the old
had failed. In a dictator-menaced world, the old way of alliances
offered the best hope since collective security could not give
security. Britain closely linked with France might have afforded
the security Geneva could not provide. This, in effect, was the policy
Eden pursued though it needed to be masked by advocacy of the
League and collective security.
A change of Government would have enabled a change
to be made in ministerial language. Rarely have the electors
been so divorced from the realities, rarely so great a divergence
between what Ministers thought and talked in the council chamber
and what they imparted in public to the people. Encouraged by mem-
bers of the Opposition led by George Lansbury, the pacifist, who
would have disbanded the Army and Navy the people had been
indulging in an emotional flood of pacifism and League of Nations
idealism the League to stop war, but no arms to back the League.
It has been the stock argument for the defence of the Baldwin-
Chamberlain Governments that they could not re-arm because the
electors would have ejected them from office, but the elector is
capable of education. During the Thirties, the party leaders did not
FOREIGN SECRETARY 67
educate him in the reality of affairs, thereby neglecting their
responsibilities as democratic Ministers. There was little of the plain,
sharp speaking, with most of the facts disclosed, to which we, in our
day, have become accustomed. Realities were concealed by sup-
pression, evasion, and blanketed out by the jargon of the times
appeasement of Europe, collective security, the basis of a general
settlement in Europe, and non-aggression pacts. Public speeches
were littered with the phrases that rolled from practised lips. But the
realities with which the statesmen were dealing were largely con-
cealed from view.
From this criticism Eden's speeches cannot be held free. There
was so much he knew, and so little that he told. As a diplomat,
engaged in negotiations of delicacy, he had reason for restraint, but
a Minister has his responsibilities to Parliament and to the electors.
Ministers who did not tell dug a pit for themselves and came in the
end to be the victims of their own reticence, thwarted by the
restraints of pacifist opinion they had done little to convert.
In Italy the news of Eden's appointment was bitterly assailed.
The effectiveness of his work at Geneva and his fidelity to the
League have been called in question. It is necessary only to read
what the Italian publicists wrote to remove any doubts. In Italy his
zeal and his sincerity as League champion were not under-estimated.
While the Foreign Office was still vacant Mussolini's spokesman
put it abroad that if Eden were to be appointed it would be looked
upon as an unfriendly act, a bar to the prospects of conciliation.
Abuse from the Italians did Eden no harm, but served to
recommend him the more to his countrymen. Later it was said in
Italy that no two statesmen had more reason to be grateful to each
other than Mussolini and Eden, for without the one the Duce would
never have conquered Abyssinia and without the other Eden would
not have reached the Foreign Office.
Eden's immediate problem on taking office was what now to do
over Abyssinia. The war proceeded, and the Abyssinian chiefs by
their mistaken tactics were doing their best to lose it quickly.
Sanctions were slow in their effect.
There was a strong body of opinion for cutting our losses,
washing our hands of Abyssinia and the League. But, having gone
so far, there could be no question of throwing up the sponge and
there was pressure of opinion to take into account pressure from
68 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
the Trades Unions, from the Dominions, and even from the United
States. It was necessary to give the League the test of a fair trial to
establish whether it could he made to work.
Britain, almost alone of the nations, had carried out to the full
her obligations to the League. Business with Italy was at a standstill,
the export of coal had ceased. The Mediterranean Fleet was under
the strain of maintaining war strength. Sanctions were not hamper-
ing Italy. Eden proposed a ban on petrol. This, could it have
been made complete, would have been an impediment to Italian
operations, but the French would not agree.
Early in March, Eden was in Paris. He returned with an im-
pression of deep French anxiety. Were sanctions to be intensified,
then Mussolini would leave the League, denounce Locarno and line
up with Hitler, The Cabinet considered his report. There was
a unanimous conclusion to temporize, to negotiate, to gain time
for the completion of the programme of rearmament that had been
Peace moves as well as the petrol sanction were discussed at
Geneva, for, as Eden said, the League was not to be thought of only
in the negative role of policeman. Laval fell. Flandin took his place
at Geneva, and proved rather more co-operative, but he hesitated
to agree to the oil sanction. A decision was deferred. Eden made it
clear that his Government considered that a petrol embargo would
be ineffective to check Mussolini, but, nevertheless, he considered
that the embargo should be enforced. The French thought that
another attempt at conciliation should first be made.
Before he was prepared to agree, Flandin sought military
assurances from Britain as the price of his co-operation. The oil
embargo would mark the end of goodwill with the Italians and
the final rupture of the Franco-Italian agreement. What was to be
forfeited from the Italians the French wished to make good from the
British. To Eden Flandin put the question: Are you prepared to
extend and strengthen your Locarno undertakings by a formal
alliance with us? Eden asked for time to put the matter before the
Cabinet. We, looking back, may regard the answer as self-evident.
Since Italy was alienated, the closest of ties were necessary between
Britain and France, in view of the German danger. To a member of
the Government in 1935 the answer was by no means self-evident.
There was then no general appreciation of Hitler's purposes.
FOREIGN SECRETARY 69
Even ftad the conclusion been drawn that a Franco-British
alliance was essential, it would still have been objected that it was
not politically practicable. British opinion was moving against the
French and towards sympathy with the Germans. Among soldiers
who had fought in the war, anti-French feeling was particularly
strong. This had an important influence on British Ministers,
among whom there was a general feeling to reject the French
In Berlin, Hitler had been watching events. He had been pretty
accurately advised by his Ambassador in London as to the state of
Ministerial opinion. Von Hoesch had reported that if the Rhine
zone were remilitarized, the British would take no action. Hitler
decided that the moment had arrived to take advantage of the
weakening of the Stresa Front.
The Rhineland was Germany's immediate grievance. When
the war ended, the French had asked for their frontier to be extended
to the Rhine. This was refused them, but by the Peace Treaty a
demilitarized zone was established in the Rhineland. It was not to be
fortified or occupied by German troops. Early in March, when the
question of a Franco-British Alliance was still in question, Hitler
proposed to his Generals the immediate occupatioii of the Rhine-
land. The Generals demurred. The French, they represented, would
take immediate action and would occupy the Rhineland as years
before, under Poincare, they had occupied the Ruhr. Hitler backed
his hunch against the Generals. He would take his own life if the
French resisted. The orders were given. The Germans went in,
a few battalions at first, no more than nineteen battalions at any
time. They had been given neither bullets for their rifles nor shells
for their guns. Their orders were to withdraw if the French ap-
peared on the scene. It would have needed only a few French
divisions to have sent them packing, but not one poilu was moved.
With a craft in manoeuvring in which he was the easy superior
of his opponents, Hitler combined his coup with an offer made in
terms of sweet reasonableness to settle outstanding differences.
It was his own adaptation of the process of the carrot and the stick.
No words, however sweet and reasonable they might be, could
placate the French, but the British was it so difficult to tempt the
simple British? So the Fuehrer baited his trap.
Before the Reichstag on March 7 Hitler made a much-heralded
7O SIR ANTHONY EDEN
announcement. He began by denouncing the Treaty of Locarno. It
had been shattered, he claimed, by the French, who had concluded
an alliance with the Russians. In place of Locarno he was prepared
to offer new pacts of peace, agreements with France and Belgium to
last for twenty-five years. There should be a non-aggression pact
with Holland too, if Holland wished. He was even willing, such
was his air of reasonableness, to return to the League of Nations so
long as it was a League freed from association with the diktat of
Versailles. Peace was his aim, peace for a generation, for he had
"no further territorial demands to make in Europe".
In the midst of those reasonably sounding phrases came the
announcement that was the occasion for the speech: "In this
historic hour German troops in the Western provinces of the
Reich are just occupying their future peacetime garrisons/ 1 The
Reichstag offered its ovation. Hitler withdrew to await the out-
come. Would his Rhineland gamble succeed? His future, Germany's
future, and more than the future of Europe was bound up in the
It was the last easy chance for the democracies to check Germany
and unseat the Fuehrer, for they still enjoyed superior strength.
Germany was an armed camp, all the national effort directed to
the purposes of re-arming, but the arms and the armies were only
in the process of development. France, even without British
support, was incomparably stronger. Poincare would not have
hesitated, but Sarraut, the Premier of that emergency, was no
Poincare. He favoured the dispatch of troops, and so did the
President, Lebrun, but they had not the decisiveness to impose
their will on their Cabinet. The Generals were hesitant the
hesitancy of Generals is a curious and persistent feature of military
affairs before the guns begin to fire. The Cabinet voted. By a bare
majority immediate military intervention was rejected.
What would Britain do? It was the first major test for the new
Foreign Secretary. His immediate reaction was firm and definite.
Eden summoned the German Ambassador to inform him that the
British Government were bound to take a serious view of Hitler's
action. In a short statement in the House of Commons that same
afternoon he said that the British Government considered them-
selves to be bound to France and Belgium by their obligations
FOREIGN SECRETARY 71
A further statement was made to the House by the Prime
Minister, less forcible in its emphasis. "We have no more desire,"
said Baldwin, "than to keep calm, to keep our heads, and to con-
tinue to try to bring France and Germany together in friendship
The difference in emphasis was noted by the commentators.
There was chatter about the possibility of a Cabinet clash. It was no
more than the idle gossip of the uninformed. Eden's preference
would have been for taking a strong line, but a clash in the Cabinet
was not within the range of possibilities. He had no thought of
challenging the Prime Minister, nor, had he done so, would he
have had the backing of many of his colleagues. They agreed that
Hitler had once again broken the peace treaties, but after all, "why
shouldn't a man walk into his own backyard?" The phrase epito-
mized British opinion. The Dominion Governments had not
ratified Locarno: they would never consent to fight over the Rhine.
The Foreign Secretary arranged to meet French Ministers in
Paris. Halifax accompanied him. With backward glances at Hoare's
meeting with Laval, it was recognized that there were advantages
in having Halifax available as support for the young Minister, and
as a steadying influence. They were given precise instructions to
recommend that the League should condemn Germany and
reaffirm the sanctity of Treaties, thus paving the way for new
negotiations with Hitler and new agreements. The French must be
made to realize, said Baldwin, that Britain was in no condition to
fight for Locarno even were that desirable. Germany crushed by
France and Russia would be a Communist Germany. Hitler's
lectures to Simon on the Bolshevik menace had not been forgotten.
The Belgians as well as the French joined in the Paris talks. The
Italians declined to participate; while they were exposed to sanctions
they could not be expected to defend Locarno. The British Ministers
were met with proposals for immediate and forcible action. Hitler
should be directed to withdraw his troops from the Rhineland
under threat of immediate sanctions if he declined.
Eden stated British objections. When it was a question of
military unpreparedness Flandin straightway offered to undertake
the job single-handed, given the authority of her Locarno partners,
Britain and Belgium. As to negotiations with Hitler for a new pact,
tied up with the League, Flandin said no, not until the Rhineland
72 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
Bad been evacuated. Eden was reminded of his statement in the
House. Would the British Government be prepared to translate the
Locarno guarantee into a definite alliance?
With nothing decided, the talks were adjourned. The Locarno
Powers and the League Council would meet in London in two days*
Eden, reporting to his colleagues on the Paris meeting, found
that there would be no support for anything that might involve
war. His championship of the French case produced some effect.
He found Neville Chamberlain to be on his side. Neville had not
hitherto concerned himself conspicuously with foreign affairs, but
when the French arrived he took a hand in the discussions, warning
Flandin that British opinion would not support sanctions. Flandin
retorted that the mere threat of force would be sufficient: Hitler
would yield without the necessity for action. Neville would not
accept this as a "reliable estimate of a mad dictator's reactions'*.
Eden might press the French case upon his colleagues. He was
met with the reply: The League and collective security had been
grudgingly supported by the French over Abyssinia: why now
should Britain contribute to France's security over the Rhineland?
What British Ministers were not brought to realize was that not
merely France's, but Europe's security was involved. Did Eden's
vision pierce thus far into the future?
Of the opinion of the man in the street there was no doubt. He
was writing to M.P.s and to the newspapers against any Continental
commitments. Eden received letters enough urging that his duty
was to come to terms with Hitler and make a lasting peace in Europe.
Ministers in a democracy are glad enough to rest their case on the
solid basis of public opinion when opinion supports the policy they
have chosen to pursue. Over Abyssinia they had followed opinion
half-way. Over the Rhineland, opinion and policy were at one.
The London discussions ended in talk. The League Council was
notified that Germany had violated Locarno, which was patent
for the world to see. The Locarno Powers, summoned to a formal
conference, rejected the French case for sanctions, agreed to demand
of Germany that the new frontier should not be fortified, and
suggested that an international force should be sent to occupy
a narrow frontier zone, a token force, token occupation. When
Germany declined to agree or to refer the legality of the issue to the
FOREIGN SECRETARY 73
International Court at the Hague, Eden sent Hitler a questionnaire,
a long series of questions, asking him to clarify his intentions. This
the Fuehrer disposed of by allowing it to remain on the table.
One satisfaction France was given Anglo-French staff talks
were to be held. Flandin rejoiced to think that he had obtained this
measure of support. It was the first formal commitment on the
Continent that Britain had entered into since the war. Only
Flandin's persistence and Eden's emphatic backing forced this
concession from a reluctant Cabinet.
The Foreign Secretary had difficulty in persuading his fellow
Ministers to agree that staff conversations should take place. He
had next to secure approval from a House that was coldly dubious,
even suspicious, of the commitments that had been entered into.
Eden delivered a most convincing speech. "Anthony," conceded
Neville Chamberlain, "made the speech of his life and it was not
only a good speech. It showed both courage and statesmanship."
Eden began by reminding Members that Britain, under the
Locarno Pact, was pledged in case of aggression to render aid to
Belgium and France. We were not uncommitted and free arbiters.
We were guarantors under the Treaty with obligations imposed
upon us. "I am not," Eden declared, "and I want in all bluntness to
make this plain I am not prepared to be the first British Foreign
Secretary to go back on a British signature."
The French, to whom we were bound by our Locarno commit-
ments, had not been prepared to enter into further negotiations with
the Germans unless the Rhineland were evacuated. To secure that
end they were prepared to resort to sanctions. Instead, the British
Government sought constructive contributions from the Germans
as a preliminary to negotiations for new pacts for Europe's peace.
To meet the French case, the Government had agreed to staff talks
with the French and Belgians.
Eden was at pains to show the limited nature of the intended
talks. They would be confined to purely technical military ques-
tions. In no measure would they increase our political obligations.
They would be limited by our obligations under Locarno, and
would be purely defensive in their purpose.
Without explaining away the staff talks altogether, Eden could
scarcely have gone farther in belittling their importance. He
thought it necessary to reply to those who feared new British
74 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
entanglements in Europe, and to those who thought that we might
become involved in a quarrel that was not ours. "The people of this
country are determined that that shall not happen and that is the
view of the Government. We agree with it entirely. Our obliga-
tions are world-wide obligations. They are the obligations of the
League Covenant. We stand firm in support of them. We do not
add, nor will we add one jot to those obligations except in the area
covered by the Locarno Treaty. Let us make our position absolutely
clear. We accept no obligations beyond those shared by the League
except the obligations that devolve on us under Locarno."
The discussions with the French, from which our new commit-
ment had emerged, were recommended to the House as the peaceful
outcome of a crisis that had menaced Europe's peace. Few people
in this country had realized the immense significance to France and
Belgium of the demilitarized RJbineland zone. There had been
latent dangers in the crisis that were not appreciated. The justi-
fication for the proposals to which Britain had agreed was that they
had allayed the immediate prospects of steps that might have led to
In the final section of his speech Eden became eloquent in his
appeal for support in the task to which he was addressing himself.
A strengthened League of Nations, an ordered Europe, a greater
confidence in which nations would rely less on arms and more on
law and order were those things impossible of achievement?
These were issues transcending the limitations of party politics.
When the whole future of civilization was at stake, who cared
about party labels?
It was fantastic to suggest that Britain was tied to the chariot
wheels of this or that foreign country. "We cannot ensure peace
unless in this country and elsewhere we divest ourselves of pre-
judices about this or that foreign nation. I would like to say to
France that we cannot ensure peace unless the French Government
is ready to approach with an open mind the problems which still
separate it from Germany. I would like to say to Germany: How
can we hope to enter on negotiations unless you are prepared to
allay the anxieties in Europe which you have created?"
The Minister's case for the endorsement of staff conversations
was supported by Winston Churchill and Austen Chamberlain.
Free from the restraints of office, they could use language denied to
FOREIGN SECRETARY 75
Eden. With a vision ranging into the future, Winston could fore-
cast the strategic consequences of the Rhineland coup. The forti-
fications would change the whole aspect of affairs in Central
Europe, in Poland and the Balkans.
Austen Chamberlain could see with equal penetration into the
menaces of the future. The independence of Austria was the key
position. Were Austria to perish, Czechoslovakia would become
indefensible. Then the whole of the Balkans would be submitted to
a gigantic new influence. Then the old German dream of a Central
Europe ruled by and subject to Berlin would become a reality from
the Baltic to the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, with incalculable
consequences not only for our country but for the whole of our
To these considerations the Cabinet turned a vision as dim as
Nelson's blind eye. If they saw, they did not act, neither did they
warn and begin to rouse public opinion against Hitlerism. Instead
the path of conciliation was to be pursued and negotiations for new
pacts started with the Fuehrer who could tear up treaties with the
ease of scraps of paper in a closet.
Hitler had followed the example of Mussolini. He had proved
himself a better judge than his Generals. With little strength to back
his bluff he had scored over the democracies. He drew conclusions
as to what he might be able to achieve when he could put might
behind his words.
Vast consequences were to flow from this. The transformation
of the world scene, the regroupings, the entire range of problems
with which Eden was to be faced in his later years at the Foreign
Office, had their origin in the event in the Rhineland. For the
rumblings and hesitations of those days Eden must bear his measure
of responsibility, the collective responsibility of a member of the
Cabinet. He had the further individual responsibility of the head
of the Foreign Office. On the two issues of the time, stronger action
by the League over Abyssinia and support for the French over the
Rhineland, he showed himself to be sounder in judgment than his
Cabinet colleagues. But he was not able to enforce his opinions
upon them, nor did his differences with them weigh so heavily as
to require him to resign his office.
The problem of Italy remained. When reoccupation of the
Rhineland had turned attention away from Geneva, the imposing
7<5 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
of a petrol embargo on Italy had been under discussion. When
April came Haile Selassie and his army were nearing defeat. By
mid-April the Emperor's headquarters had been taken.
The Geneva discussions proceeded. The French were in favour
of calling off sanctions. Eden was prepared, even at that stage, to
extend them. The Italians, he said, had intensified their aggression.
In the British view it was intolerable that they should speak at
Geneva of conciliation while the war continued. There must be
real conciliation, otherwise the Sanctions Committee would again
have to consider its task.
Eden was still endeavouring to save something from the wreck
of the League and collective security. The Cabinet were prepared
for the extension of sanctions, although Baldwin conceded that
without a blockade in force, sanctions could scarcely be effective
to arrest the Italians, and a blockade could not be agreed to inside
Early in May, Addis Ababa was occupied. The Emperor fled
from his dominions to find refuge in England. Mussolini pro-
claimed Abyssinia to be placed under the sovereignty of the King
of Italy. What ground for sanctions remained? Even pro-League
opinion began to waver. Austen Chamberlain roundly declared
that to continue sanctions was a policy of equal danger and futility.
Winston Churchill agreed. Samuel Hoare, about to return to
Government office, felt that his forebodings had been realized only
The French, now led by Leon Blum, head of a new Govern-
ment of the Left, were in favour of an early settlement in Italy.
There was the future to consider. Could the Stresa front be re-
At this stage, Eden was approached by Grandi, Italian Ambas-
sador in London. He brought assurances that Mussolini had no
designs on British interests in the Near East. This was received with
While the decision on sanctions was still deferred, Neville
Chamberlain intervened with a calculated indiscretion. To members
of the 1900 Club he spoke of the "midsummer madness" of con-
tinuing sanctions in force. He considered that the time had come
to end a policy of drift. He had not consulted Eden before his
speech, "because he would have begged of me not to say what
FOREIGN SECRETARY 77
I proposed. ... He has been very nice about It, though it is, of
course, true that to some extent he has had to suffer in the public
interest.** That speech marked the end of the League's endeavours.
The Foreign Secretary himself made the formal announcement
to the House Qune 18). He had come to the conclusion, he said,
that no purpose was to be served by continuing sanctions as a means
of exerting pressure on Italy. The assumption on which sanctions
had been based had not been borne out. One of the reasons was
a miscalculation by military opinion in most countries that the
conflict would have lasted much longer. Sanctions had not had time
to produce deterrent results.
The announcement was badly received by the Opposition.
From pacifist members there were cries of "Shame!" "Resign!" and
When Gallacher, the Communist, charged him with the respon-
sibility for running away, Eden replied by enumerating what the
British Government had done at Geneva. Many times a lead had
been given by Britain: not once had a lead been given by any other
state. It was by British insistence that the Abyssinian dispute was
brought within the jurisdiction of the League Council. It was
British action, challenged by Italy, that established the authority of
the Council to follow the dispute. It was the British lead that had
resulted in collective action being taken for the first time in the
League history. It was the British lead that had resulted in the
League machinery by which collective action was organized.
British action Eden could enumerate the examples with the
pride of a man recalling his own achievements, for it was largely
his work, the results of his own influence with his fellow Ministers
at home and his fellow delegates at Geneva.
Despite that present failure the Government were determined
that the League should go on. This was met by interruptions from
the Socialists and cries of "Where?" "Which way?" Eden continued
unperturbed with his statement. If in future the League were to
have a chance of success then the lessons of Abyssinia must be
applied. The Government, in consultation with the Dominions,
would consider the shortcomings, weaknesses, even dangers, in the
structure of the League that experience had revealed.
A few days later Eden rose from his place in the Assembly of
the League of Nations to make the formal proposition for the lifting
78 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
of sanctions. It was an unpalatable task. A year's labours had been
brought to nought.
The proceedings were made the more melancholy by the
appearance of Haile Selassie before the Assembly. "What/' he
asked, "has become of your promises to me? God and history will
remember/' Other states, noting the facts, drew the appropriate
conclusion. It was put into words by de Valera. "Is there any small
nation represented here," he asked, "which does not feel the truth
of the warning that what is Ethiopia's fate to-day may well be its
own fate to-morrow?"
Formal protest was offered on behalf of the Union of South
Africa that fifty nations, led by three of the most powerful states of
the world, had been powerless to save their weak member from
destruction. It would shatter international confidence and all hope
of realizing world peace.
Having been so closely identified with the work of Geneva,
Eden could not escape some loss in prestige over the failure of the
League's intervention. Opponents of the League sought to make
him bear the odium of failure, as a Government scapegoat. It was
even reported that his dismissal was contemplated. It was a palpable
and odious invention. At no time had the Foreign Secretary been
seriously at variance with his Cabinet colleagues. He continued to
retain the trust of the Prime Minister and there was no reason why
his confidence should have been forfeited. Eden had acted in
harmony with Baldwin and his colleagues. The League policy was
their policy, or at least of the majority of them.
Outside the circle of the Cabinet, opinion was deeply stirred.
Ministers might still urge the continuance of the League. Electors,
with keener realism, gave up the faith they had placed in it. If the
League could not assure the collective security attributed to it, then
what purpose did it serve? If it was no more than humbug, neither
collective nor secure, then let it end.
With shrewd realism the lesser states of Europe revised their
outlook. From Scandinavia to Spain interest in the League evap-
orated. Following closely on France's inaction over the Rhineland,
the League's failure speeded up the collapse of the French system of
alliances, the cordon sanitaire around Germany.
Finally came the rapprochement between Italy and Germany.
In 1934, after the Dollfuss murder, when Mussolini sent his divisions
FOREIGN SECRETARY 79
towards the Brenner for the protection of Austria, the two dictators
looked on each other with scarcely concealed dislike and mistrust.
The Duce was contemptuous of his brother dictator of Berlin.
Anti-German feeling ran high in Italy. The Abyssinian episode
detached the Duce from the Western democracies. War in Spain
completed what Abyssinia had begun. The Duce ganged up with
WAR IN SPAIN
T ITTLE breathing space was afforded between the winding-up
JL/of the Abyssinian episode and the opening of the next develop-
ment to add to the anxieties of Europe and perplexities of Foreign
Ministers. The war in Spain was to be Eden's major problem in the
months ahead. It was to provide the occasion that was to terminate
his first period of office as Foreign Secretary.
Civil war broke out in Spain on July 18, 1936. Armed revolt
had been organized by the Right Wing parties against the govern-
ment of the Left. Mussolini, seeking to advance his position in the
Mediterranean, gave his backing to the insurgents. The generals
behind the revolt expected to triumph in a brief coup. There
was no such facile success. Fighting developed into full scale civil
For the outside world the issues were simplified by labelling
the insurgents "Fascists" and the Government forces "Reds".
Italian support for the insurrectionists was not disguised. In France,
the Left Wing Government of Blum was inclined by political
sympathy towards the "Reds". Hitler saw the opportunity for
gaining Mussolini's goodwill and added his support to the Italians.
The Soviet Government could not hold aloof from this battle of
the ideologies. Troops and arms, technicians and advisers drawn from
the various countries were engaged. A miniature prelude to the
war to come was shortly in progress in the Spanish peninsula.
Were intervention from outside to increase, Civil War in Spain
must then have developed into a war of Europe.
Eden's diplomacy was directed from the outset to localizing
the conflict. His object was first to prevent the conflict from
spreading beyond the borders of Spain and second to preserve,
whatever might be the final outcome of the struggle, Spain's
It was the French Government that first proposed the policy
of organized abstention that came to be known as non-intervention.
With Sir Samuel
Hoare (Lord Temple-
ivood) then Foreign
Secretary during the
Abyssinia Crisis in
John Simon during a
League of ^Nations
Assembly at Geneva
Standing beside the Emir Abdullah of Transjordan, with General Wavell, in 1942
President Roosevelt's greeting on his arrival at the Quebec Conference in
1943. In uniform is the Earl of Athlone, Governor-General of Canada
WAR IN SPAIN 8l
Eden immediately gave the proposal his vigorous support. Within
a week the Italians, the Germans and the Russians had agreed to
co-operate. An embargo on the export of arms to Spain was agreed
to. By the end of August, the states of Europe had formally com-
mitted themselves to non-intervention at least in words. There
were leakages, breaches of the undertakings given. A committee
was set up with its headquarters in London to supervise the arrange-
ments. Complaints were made on both sides and it was not to be
disguised that non-intervention was "more honoured in the breach
than the observance". As a check to evasions, a scheme of patrols
and controls was worked out by the British and French.
Eden strove to blanket the Spanish fires. So long as the fighting
could be contained within Spanish borders he was prepared to
accept the victory of either side. To intervene, he asserted, would
be bad humanity and bad politics. Churchill supported him. At all
costs Britain must keep out of "this dismal welter".
There were protests in the House from the Socialists. Their
sympathies were with the Spanish Government forces. The flagrant
evasions of non-intervention by Germany and Italy were vigorously
denounced. Supporters of the Franco insurrectionists, with equal
force and no less justice, denounced the evasions of the Russians
and the French. There were sharp exchanges in the House and
feelings mounted as Franco gained ground.
The Socialists changed their minds about non-intervention.
It was, they declared, working for Franco. The Government, they
declared, wanted the Spanish Fascists to win. The farce of non-
intervention should be ended.
Eden was unwavering. The effect of non-intervention on the
combatants within Spain was a minor concern. He ignored it and
kept his attention fixed firmly on his ultimate and major purpose
to prevent hostilities from spreading. It was true that non-inter-
vention was not working as well as could be wished. There had been
grave breaches of the agreement, but that was no reason for aban-
doning the principle.
"Those who advocate its abandonment must face the alternative.
It is immeasurably grave. M. Blum has spoken of his conviction
that non-intervention saved a European war last August. I for one
am not prepared to disagree."
This was the reiterated substance of a dozen of speeches. The
82 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
only alternative to non-intervention was active intervention and
for that no party was prepared. When at last the fighting was over
the Spanish people would like best those who had fought least on
either side. They would feel scant gratitude for those who had killed
fellow Spaniards. They would best understand the motives of the
nation that had confined its intervention to the saving of thousands
of Spanish lives.
Whatever success non-intervention might achieve abroad, at
home it could not blanket out the sparks of politics. Party feelings
were exacerbated. Eden began to lose some of the goodwill that
had persisted among Opposition members. He was heartened by the
messages of appreciation he received from abroad. The United
States Government had issued a message of sympathetic support
for the endeavours of the Non-intervention Committee. It was
an encouragement to persevere.
New strains and stresses were everywhere developing. The
apathy of Britain's years of pacifism was beginning to pass. The
Spanish war was accentuating differences, rousing feelings that had
been dormant. British re-armament was producing slow results. There
were stirrings of a new spirit, with a more forcible note, that found
expression in the Foreign Secretary's speeches. He lost no oppor-
tunity of emphasizing the essential peacefulness of Britain, but he
began to dwell more on other aspects of Government policy.
If our ideals were to prevail in a re-arming world we must see
to it that we were strong. Attempts to uphold international law
had not benefited from the comparative decline of British strength
in arms. The equilibrium must be restored. We preferred butter to
guns, but other nations did not, and were sacrificing their standard
of living to the standard of arms.
Looking out from his desk in Whitehall, the Foreign
Minister saw a continent that was re-arming steadily, feverishly.
Marching men had once again become a feature of the landscape
and to that was added the new menace of great squadrons of the air.
These things might be the token of man's folly, but they could not
be ignored. He did not believe in the inevitability of catastrophe,
but he knew that the future peace of Europe depended upon the
part that Britain could play. The strength of British armaments was
of paramount importance to the preservation of peace.
The tendency was growing to divide Europe into two opposing
WAR IN SPAIN 83
camps according to the two extreme political doctrines. This was
deplorable. The doctrine of the class war had never been accepted
by the British people because they were practical enough to see
that it made no sense. To divide nations according to political
creeds was equally false. Democracy had been assailed because it
was not heroic and Europe, we were told, was entering upon an
heroic age. "By all means," he told members of the Foreign Press,
"let us have heroism, but let us regard Europe as a land for heroes
to live in, not merely to die in. Let us not confuse heroism and
In a world in which national prestige was worshipped as a
golden calf, he urged that we should take as the standard of our
own prestige as a nation our ability to combine tolerance and free-
dom with strong and effective government. "Democracy comes
near to dictatorship," he declared at the Cutlers* Feast, "when the
will of the majority is imposed in a spirit of intolerance on the
minority. British democracy should see to it that the majority
secures for the minority proper scope and conditions of life."
Eden's outlook had broadened with his experience. His tech-
nique as a speaker had matured. He could not be compared with
Churchill in his rhetorical strength, or with Baldwin in his musings.
But he could address the plain man in the plain man's words. He
spoke less in the language of platitude, and dropped less frequently
into bathos. There was an occasional phrase to add point to his
It was notable that in times that were growing cynically indif-
ferent to moral issues he should have insisted on the continuing
validity of moral values. For some of his hearers there was a quaintly
old-fashioned ring about this intrusion of right and wrong into the
international sphere. The belief that the moral as well as the poli-
tical weight of Britain should be brought to bear in affairs was not
one that would have found general expression amongst his col-
leagues. He held that effort must be made to convince the world
that power politics did not pay, that there must be a moral basis
His colleagues, becoming aware of his moral earnestness, were
slightly disconcerted. It marked a difference between him and the
pragmatical minds that were ascendant in the Cabinet councils. It
marked a difference in his approach to Europe's problems. Thus,
84 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
on the war in Spain, his personal feelings were against dictator-
supported Franco. This was little suspected by Opposition members,
who reproached him for pursuing a policy that was contributing to
the success of Franco.
Even Hoare, with his Quaker associations, did not share his
feelings. "I formed the impression when I was first Lord," he
testifies, "that Eden regarded the conflict in Spain as one between
absolute right and absolute wrong, in which the Dictator should at
all costs be defeated and democracy defended. This almost pas-
sionate feeling, which was fully shared by his intimate friends,
differed from my own view/'
It is a glimpse of a facet of the man that has not been exposed
to the public eye. "This almost passionate feeling" it is an element
in Eden's nature whose existence could not generally be deduced
from his speeches. He has lacked that capacity for the expression of
his more intimate feelings with which Baldwin was so well en-
dowed. Rarely in Eden's speeches is the personal note to be detected.
On almost every subject with which he has dealt he has been aloof,
detached, making speeches from his brain, rarely from his emotions.
The blanket of non-intervention has been rigorously imposed on
his personal convictions. It has produced a wrong impression of
the man. Only occasionally have there been glimpses of the
eager temperament, the warm-hearted sympathies and the con-
victions that glow beneath the poise and assurance of the practised
The continuance of the Spanish war was disturbing for Musso-
lini. He had been disappointed in his hopes of an easy Franco
victory, to which he had committed himself. His prestige was at
stake. The longer the war went on, the greater grew his need for
German assistance. The Duce's failure worked for Hitler's ends.
Italy, separated further from France and Britain, was drawn towards
Germany. The dictators met first at Munich, then in Berlin.
Mussolini agreed to join the German-Japanese anti-Communist
Pact. The Rome-Berlin Axis came into being.
The line-up of the dictators might have been expected to give
a new sense of urgency to the need for British re-armament. With
the formation of the Axis the democratic powers might have
drawn closer together. With curious disdain, British Ministers
continued to pursue the line they had been following. The dictators
WAR IN SPAIN 85
might seek to divide Europe into armed blocs. Britain, true to her
democratic way of life, would be no party to any such associations.
Opinion remained critical of the French and intensely suspicious
of any suggestion of British entanglements.
So strong was this feeling that Eden was forced to make a public
disavowal. He was suspected in some quarters of having entered
into a hidden treaty with the French. The terms of the speech he
made at Leamington on the purposes of British disarmament,
coupled with a statement by the French Foreign Minister, M.
Delbos, were held to have given colour to those suspicions. He
considered it necessary to give a public explanation and denial.
It was not the case, he said, that there was some new alliance.
"Neither M. Delbos's statement nor mine represents any new
departure, nor do they conceal any intention to form any exclusive
alliance, nor do they suggest a policy of blocs. Let me emphasize
once again it is not in our minds, nor, I am convinced, is it in the
minds of the French Government, to seek to come to any exclusive
arrangement. Far from it we desire and should cordially welcome
the co-operation of Germany, not only in a Western agreement
but in European affairs generally."
Here plainly indicated was one of the continuing problems of
Eden's term at the Foreign Office. As a protege of Austen Cham-
berlain his sympathies were with the French. He shared their
anxieties about the future and he would have moved closer towards
them. His Cabinet colleagues, in the majority, were inclined to
Germany and therein they and not the Foreign Secretary were the
interpreters of national feeling.
The tide of opinion flowed in the Thirties against Eden in the
course he would have chosen. Unlike the dictator, the democratic
minister may not override public opinion. It is not always that he
has the time, or the power, to educate it. He can do no more than
strike an uneasy and varying compromise between the wishes of
the people and the guide of his own wisdom. Then he is told that
his policy lacks precision and is full of drift.
"Such criticisms," Eden said on one occasion, "seem to ignore
certain fundamental truths. To paraphrase a saying of Lord Kitch-
ener's quoted in the third volume of Winston Churchill's great
life of Marlborough: 'One cannot conduct foreign affairs as one
would, but only as one can/ " It is the Foreign Secretary's lament
86 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
from age to age. He used the words of his predecessor Edward
Grey to voice another regret: "Foreign Office things are always in
a mess; they are not as if one were doing constructive work or
writing a book or a lecture, or reading up a subject, and they can
never be put aside for a day/"
During the latter months of 1936 little progress was made in
negotiations with Germany. British Ministers were not dissatisfied:
they were playing for time while re-armament went slowly forward.
Hitler was not less satisfied: German arming went ahead. Guns
came faster than butter from democratic dairies.
The Foreign Secretary pushed on with his plans for the con-
vening of a Five Power Conference to negotiate agreements to take
the place of Locarno. Germany's co-operation was sought in the
With Italy there was no prospect of mending the broken
friendship. Mussolini in his role of a lord of the Mediterranean
(Protector, also, of Islam) had spoken in a belittling sense of
Britain's interest in the Mediterranean "a short cut by which she
reaches more quickly her outlying territories". Eden made a sharp
riposte in the House.
"The implication that freedom to come and go in the Mediter-
ranean is for this country a convenience rather than a vital interest
is one," he said, "that does not fully describe our interests. For us
the Mediterranean is not a short cut but a main arterial road.
Freedom, of communication in these waters is a vital interest, in
the full sense of the word, to the British Commonwealth. In years
gone by British and Italian interests in the Mediterranean have
been complementary rather than divergent. On our part there is
every desire that those relations should be preserved in the future.
We take note of and welcome the assurance that Signer Mussolini
does not mean to threaten this route nor propose to interrupt it.
Nor do we." There was an admonition not to be mistaken in that
terse phrase "Nor do we."
Reform of the League of Nations was under consideration.
Eden did not associate himself with those quarters in which it was
fashionable to sneer at the League. The League was no perfect
instrument; to pretend that it was such, was to live in a fool's
paradise. In two important respects reform was needed. The first
was to enable the League to take action at the earliest moment in
WAR IN SPAIN 87
any given dispute. For this reason amendment was essential of the
unanimity rule, under which any single nation could prevent any
action being taken. The second change needed was to meet the
criticism and the German objection, that the League was devoted
exclusively to the maintenance of the status quo in Europe.
Eden had the satisfaction of putting his signature to a new
Treaty of Alliance which, after months of patient negotiation, was
at last agreed to with the Government of Egypt. Nahas Pasha
attended at the Foreign Office (August 26, 1936) to append his
signature on behalf of the Egyptians.
This Treaty was the instrument governing relations between
the two countries during the critical period of the second war. At
a later stage Eden was to take part in new and more difficult dis-
cussions for the conclusion of an agreement to take the place of
what was then signed. Expressing his happiness at the conclusion
of the Treaty he said that it was the result of the growing conviction
in both countries that their interests were inseparably linked. "I
have seen it said," he added, "that this marks the end of an epoch
in Anglo-Egyptian relations. I would prefer to regard it as the
beginning of a new phase." And such it proved to be.
During the closing weeks of the year 1936 public attention was
diverted from the Continent to affairs at home and the position of
the King. The Foreign Secretary took no leading part in the events
of the abdication of King Edward the Eighth. His public references
to the crisis were few and brief. He confessed, after the abdication,
to a feeling of profound sympathy for the man who had been King,
expressing at the same time a welcome of loyal affection to King
George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
In 1937 came the Coronation and its attendant festivities. The
crowning accomplished, Stanley Baldwin resigned the Premier-
ship, exhausted by the strain of the abdication, in which he had
given the final display of his statesmanlike handling of great affairs
on which he chose to bring his qualities to bear. "I have had my
hour, I pass soon into the shade," were the words of his valedictory
address to youth of the Empire. Baldwin passed to the House of
Lords. His public career ended in "a cloudless glow of praise and
gratitude". A little while and that glory would have faded. The
generation he had served after his fashion would seek to heap on
him all the responsibilities for neglect to meet the menace of Hitlerism.
88 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
A culprit was needed for the omissions of a nation and of its leaders.
Baldwin was chosen as the scapegoat.
With the succession of Neville Chamberlain to the Premiership,
a new phase was begun, the last before the opening of the war it
had been the aim of British statesmanship to avert. It was a time
of trial and tribulation for Anthony Eden.
DIFFERENCES WITH CHAMBERLAIN
DURING the ten months he served as Foreign Secretary
under Neville Chamberlain, Eden found himself to be in-
creasingly at variance with the purpose and methods of the new
Prime Minister. Finally he was driven to resign office, the first
Minister to part company with Chamberlain as he pursued his
course as apostle of appeasement.
Differences in temperament and outlook and in that sum of
opinions that we term a man's political philosophy suggested that
the Foreign Secretary would not work as easily with Chamberlain
as under his predecessor. There was a bond of sympathy that made
for harmony between Eden and Baldwin. In time they were a
generation apart, but there was something of a similarity in their
approach to politics. It arose, perhaps, from the influences of public
school and university on characters that were not dissimilar. Each
man tended to apply moral values to political problems. Both were
moved by a sense of idealism that is not general among politicians.
Over a couple of decades Baldwin, least partisan of Tory Prime
Ministers, had given a tone to public life that promoted goodwill.
He had smoothed away the harsher discords of politics and the
worst futilities of the class war.
The scapegoat who has been saddled with the blame for
Britain's weakness in her hour of need served his country better
than his detractors have allowed. I feel myself to be under no obliga-
tion to cancel the phrase I applied to him twenty years ago "the
greatest peace-time Prime Minister since Walpole". He contributed
to that unity of spirit with which the people faced the supreme
crisis of 1940. It was his achievement, throughout the years, to have
softened the acerbities that embittered politics abroad and made for
divisions and strife on the Continent, in Germany, in France, in
Spain and in Italy. Abroad there was the bitterness of antagonized
classes. Here, largely because of Baldwin, harmony was preserved.
The unity that springs from harmony was his contribution to the
90 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
national preparedness for war, and who of his detractors are pre-
pared to say that the material preparedness of Germany under Hitler
counted in the final reckoning more than the spiritual preparedness
of which Stanley Baldwin was the political stimulus in Britain?
Anthony Eden could not have achieved the eloquence of the "Give
peace in our time" speech that moved the House to a degree few
men have ever achieved, but the same purpose has been behind the
labours of his career.
With Chamberlain there was a change that extended beyond
politics. He, too, was to dedicate himself to the service of the cause
of peace, but though he strove for peace he did not inspire it. He
would, says his biographer, impart an edge to every question. He
had an astringent effect, says Hoare, who served under him, upon
opinions and preferences. He could rouse the partisans behind him,
but he had not the touch to carry his appeal over to the opposition
benches, to the men and women of the parties other than his own.
He lacked the breadth of mind and the wide humanity that, with all
his shortcomings, distinguished Baldwin.
Neville Chamberlain was of lesser calibre than the Premiers of
his time. Asquith, Lloyd George, Churchill there was greatness
about these. Chamberlain had shrewdness, efficiency, industry and
the approach of the business man in politics. He had the decisiveness
that Baldwin lacked. He had the confidence in his own judgment of
the self-opinionated man. He had gained his first experience of
affairs in Birmingham, Radical Joe's civic citadel. Only in his later
years had he had contact with the wider affairs. The limitations of
his knowledge in no way affected the certainty of his convictions.
The easy-going indolence of his predecessor was replaced by the
sharp discipline of the martinet.
In no department was the change of leadership more apparent
than at the Foreign Office. Under Baldwin, who neither liked
foreign affairs, nor gave much of his time to understanding them,
the Foreign Secretary had conducted his business and followed his
line of policy in association with the Cabinet. Chamberlain came
in with the intention formed of directing the conduct of foreign
The Foreign Office has been recognized as a department that
is the special concern of the head of the government. Some Premiers,
Salisbury and MacDonald of recent years, have themselves filled
DIFFERENCES WITH CHAMBERLAIN 9!
both offices. Having become accustomed to conducting matters
with a fairly free hand, Eden had now to accustom himself to the
supervision of his leader. Nor was the position made easier for him
by the fact that his two immediate predecessors at the Foreign
Office were the intimate advisers of the Prime Minister.
Hoare and Simon, to whom Halifax came to be added, formed
with Chamberlain the inner circle of the Cabinet. In Simon, the
Prime Minister found a critical brain of the first order. On the judg-
ment of Halifax he came to rely. By instinct and training Hoare
was in accord with his ideas. These men were guided by practical
common-sense rather than idealism, sympathized with Germany
rather than France, were not guided in their approach to world
affairs by Eden's consciousness of absolute right and wrong, but
were ready to move step by step as opportunity afforded to reach
accommodation with the dictators. It was by a gradual process that
these influences made themselves felt, but they ensured that
ultimately there must come a clash between pragmatical realism
and liberal-minded idealism. Chamberlain dedicated himself to
the noblest of causes, but it has been questioned whether he was
actuated by the noblest of motives. There are those who see in him
not the idealist labouring for peace, but the vain man seeking the
world's acclaim as the great pacificator of his age.
Chamberlain took over the reins with a clear-cut notion of what
he wanted and a suspicion that with his Foreign Secretary he would
encounter a lack of enthusiasm for his purpose. He believed that the
double policy of rearmament and better relations with Germany
and Italy would carry the country safely through the danger period
"If only the Foreign Office would play up." With such initial
mistrust it was natural that he should wish to make changes, but that
would take time. With a sense of urgency about his task he valued
time like a general, a general campaigning for peace.
Grandi called to inform Eden that he had a message from his
master to the Prime Minister. Once contact had been made,
Chamberlain continued the discussions outside the Foreign Office.
Twice the ambassador was received by the Prime Minister. On the
second occasion, Chamberlain handed him a friendly letter for
Mussolini. The Prime Minister had preferred not to consult the
Foreign Secretary over the terms, and did not show him the letter
"for I had the feeling he would object to it". There is a sign of
92 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
weakness here, and something out of keeping with the character of
a straightforward man. "Nevertheless," Neville recorded in his
diary with some show of relief, "nevertheless Anthony made no
Later, Chamberlain was to lament that it was Eden who was
then at the Foreign Office. He was to be filled with regrets at the
thought of an opportunity that was lost and he sighed at the
thought "If I had had Halifax at the Foreign Office instead of
Anthony at the time I wrote my letter to Mussolini."
However, he could persuade himself that the preliminaries had
passed off reasonably well. He had conveyed to the Duce his will
for friendliness and a return to the atmosphere of the Gentlemen's
Agreement. Mussolini was accommodating in his reply. Conscious
of the value to be placed on Italian support, he was ready to cash
in on any advantage to be gained. Recognition of his conquests in
Abyssinia was his immediate aim.. Chamberlain was not unrespon-
sive, but insisted that recognition must be part of a comprehensive
agreement and the end of Anti-British propaganda.
While these discussions were proceeding, there was an un-
orthodox approach towards Hitler. Nevile Henderson, newly
appointed to the Berlin embassy, had foreshadowed a more con-
ciliatory British line. In a public speech he had referred to the
"great social experiment" in Germany, which sounded compli-
mentary by comparison with the terms currently applied to
Hitlerism. Chamberlain followed up by inviting the German
Foreign Minister to London.
At this point incidents in the Spanish war clouded the brighten-
ing prospects. Merchant ships in Spanish waters were sunk by
submarines that could not be other than Italian. There was an
immediate outcry against Mediterranean piracy. Hitler added to
the tension by complaints about German warships being made the
object of Red target practice. Following the loss of many British
cargoes, an Italian torpedo was fired at the destroyer Havoc. There
was an urgent new problem in non-intervention.
A conference of Mediterranean Powers was summoned to meet
at the Swiss town of Nyon, not far from Geneva. Neither Italy nor
Germany would take part. Eden entered on the discussions with a
heartening message of support from Winston Churchill, whom he
had been meeting on social terms on the Riviera. He was further
DIFFERENCES WITH CHAMBERLAIN 93
encouraged by the co-operation of the French, represented by
Delbos. How different from the Laval days over Abyssinia. With
Britain and France agreed, there was no difficulty in deciding on
measures to stop the piratical sinkings. A naval and air patrol was
established. Very shortly eighty destroyers of the two navies were
sailing the blue waters, with scouting 'planes in the skies. The pirate
submarines disappeared. There were no more sinkings.
It was a success for democracies, and a rebuff for Mussolini,
who, as Eden said, had overstepped the mark and had to pay the
penalty. The "masked highwaymen of the seas", who had not
hesitated over manslaughter or murder, were checked. The naval
police rooted out "gangster terrorism".
The Foreign Secretary was warmly praised, the Prime Minister
adding his contribution of congratulations. But what of the con-
sequences on the approaches to Mussolini? Was this the way to
restore the Gentlemen's Agreement?
There were acid comments in the Italian Press, a renewal of the
attacks on Eden. The submarine gangsters had been suppressed,
but the political blackmailers were in action. "We seem to be back
in the days of Baldwin when Eden was supreme master of foreign
policy," one commentator stated. "With Eden at the head of the
Foreign Office we must be on our guard," was another suggestive
However admirable its effect might be at sea, the Nyon agree-
ment was not a step in the direction the appeaser wished to follow.
Chamberlain deplored the effect on Anglo-Italian relations: it could
be so dangerous. A little later he was concerned about verbal
exchanges that were not conducive to the atmosphere he was seek-
ing. Mussolini might be more than usually insolent, but all the same
"Anthony should never have been provoked into a retort which
throws Italy and Germany together when our policy is so obviously
to divide them."
These disturbing impressions must be removed. Halifax, in the
Lords, pointed the way to better things, and the clearing away of
misunderstandings that had arisen out of Spain. "I can myself look
forward," Chamberlain wrote, "though I do not want to be unduly
optimistic, to the gradual establishment of a new and healthier
atmosphere in which it would be possible to reach the position
where Anglo-Italian conversations might be held."
94 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
A few days later, in a public speech at Llandudno, Eden made
references to Italy in which the soothing tones of conciliation were
not conspicuous. Having reaffirmed his confidence in the course
of non-intervention, he drew a distinction between non-inter-
vention and indifference. Britain, he said, was not indifferent to
complications that might arise in the Mediterranean as the result of
the intervention of others in Spain. Piracy was an example. The
Nyon agreement had put an end to conditions that had become
intolerable. We should continue to be watchful. Since the Nyon
Conference, discussions had been proceeding to make non-inter-
vention in Spain effective and a reality. The Italians had not been
able to agree to proposals made by the British and French Govern-
ments. The Government would regret a breakdown, but were not
prepared indefinitely to acquiesce in dilatory tactics and evasions of
"A feature of the present situation/' Eden added, "is proclaimed
intervention, the glorification of breaches of the agreement. In
such conditions no one can complain if the patience of those who
have striven to keep their responsibilities towards Europe con-
stantly before them is well-nigh exhausted. I, for one, should cer-
tainly not be prepared to utter criticism of any nation which, if such
conditions continue, felt compelled to resume its freedom of action.
I am as anxious as anybody to remove disagreements with Germany
and Italy or any other country, but we must make sure that in trying
to improve the situation in one direction it does not deteriorate in
another. I have often said we have no intention of making exclusive
friendships with other countries, and that we cannot lend ourselves
to a policy which in order to include some must exclude others."
This was plain speaking. Having shown at Nyon that Mussolini
could not stand up to the Anglo-French combination working
harmoniously, Eden was pressing home his advantage. But it was
scarcely consonant with the realization of the hopes Halifax had
Lloyd George noted the difference in ministerial emphasis.
He pictured Eden as the first-class chauffeur and behind him an
assembly of nervous wrecks pulling at his elbow. "I have been
watching the thing," Lloyd George remarked. "Eden obviously
knows his own mind. I can see that he is not having his own way in
DIFFERENCES WITH CHAMBERLAIN 95
Eden was concerned not so much with the kck of progress with
Mussolini as with the lack of drive behind the arms programme.
Looking out from the Foreign Office windows on the European
scene, he was impressed by anxieties of the time of storm and
challenge, "Obligations are ignored, engagements cynically torn
up, confidence shaken, methods of making war without declaring
war, while at the same time each nation declares that its one desire
is peace. In all this confusion, amidst all the horrors, national unity
and strength are the essential need/'
To this period belongs the incident reported by Winston
Churchill. Increasingly concerned about our tardy progress in re-
arming, Eden had an interview with Neville Chamberlain. He
tried to convey his misgivings. The Prime Minister refused to hear
him out. "Go home and take an aspirin," was Chamberlain's
"If only the Foreign Office will play." As he pursued the path of
appeasement Chamberlain must have felt a recurrence of his doubts.
Men who have spent years of their professional lives studying the
international scene cannot suppress their views of affairs. The man
in a hurry to produce a settlement of Europe's problems grew im-
patient over the complexities of the machinery of the foreign de-
partment. Simplifying the issues in his mind, he needed a simpli-
fication of the machine, with the controls in his own hands. It is
one of those ironies that give a piquancy to the chronicles that
Neville Chamberlain should have come to adopt the methods of
Lloyd George in his later days in short-circuiting the Foreign
Office and its head. Chamberlain had spent fifteen years in opposing
the return to ministerial office of Lloyd George, the man whom
above all others in public life he disliked and whose methods he
deplored. Nevertheless, within a short period of taking over,
Chamberlain had re-created in embryo the system of the Foreign
Office annexe, the "suburb" in the garden of Number Ten that had
so troubled Curzon, serving under Lloyd George.
Changes had recently been made in the Foreign Office per-
sonnel. Vansittart, the permanent head of the department, so wise
over Germany, was considered to have compromised himself over
the Hoare-Laval pact. He was relieved of his post under the
semblance of promotion as Chief Diplomatic Adviser to the
Government, a place of honour without authority. Alexander
<X> SIR ANTHONY EDEN
Cadogan succeeded him. Under Chamberlain an additional civil
servant was intruded in the conduct of affairs. Horace Wilson had
won the respect of two Prime Ministers as an outstanding adminis-
trator. Chamberlain had benefited from his assistance both at the
Ministry of Health and the Treasury. Now he was installed at Num-
ber Ten as head of the secretariat, and was assigned an office next
to the Cabinet room. The chief industrial adviser to the Government
had become the Prime Minister's supplementary adviser on foreign
questions. Chief and adviser had this in common, that they could
approach world affairs with minds uninhibited by the influences of
careers devoted to the mysteries of diplomacy. Dyarchy in the
conduct of Foreign Afiairs had taken a new, an amateur turn.
The next intrusion was the appearance of the Master of Fox-
hounds as envoy to Hitler. Goering had organized a hunting
exhibition which Halifax received an invitation to attend in his
capacity of Master of the Middleton. The Prime Minister saw here
a chance for getting on personal terms with the Fuehrer.
The arrangements for the trip were made with some appearance
of mystery. Eden at that time was attending at Brussels the Nine-
Power Conference on the Far East. Halifax was temporarily in
charge of the Foreign Office. The news of his plan to go on a hunt-
ing expedition to Germany first emerged in a garbled newspaper
report. It was easy to jump to the conclusion that things were being
fixed behind Eden's back and the jump was quickly made. One
American correspondent went so far as to cable home that there
had been a first-class row amongst Ministers, that Eden had
offered his resignation and that Chamberlain had, with difficulty,
persuaded him to stay on. Appearances were made to support the
conjecture, for Eden broke off his discussions at Brussels to confer
with Chamberlain and Halifax.
Speculation on the interesting subject of the future of the
Foreign Office died away when Halifax, on his return, conferred
with Eden, who was present when the report was made to the Prime
Minister on the hunting-cum-diplomacy expedition. Chamberlain
was highly satisfied. Halifax had established contact with Hitler
that was the essential fact. It contributed to the atmosphere that was
necessary for discussions with Germany that might lead to a settle-
ment. Now they knew pretty well what Hitler wanted Austria,
Czechoslovakia in its German populated parts and the return of the
DIFFERENCES WITH CHAMBERLAIN 97
Colonies in Africa. If he would be reasonable in his methods a deal
might be done, always providing that peaceful means were to be
As a sequel to the Halifax talks in Germany, the French Ministers
came to London for an exchange of views. Eden was always happy
when meeting friends from across the Channel. He could note with
relish that they showed a contempt for Mussolini and his Italians
that was not to Chamberlain's liking, but they raised no objection
to Chamberlain pursuing his approaches to Italy.
As if to remind the others of his importance, the Duce chose at
this stage to pull out of the League, that "tottering temple in which
they do not work for peace but prepare for war". Ajnglo-Italian
relations grew worse rather than better.
Chamberlain noted with dismay that the year was running to
its close and no headway had been made. The Italians were pouring
out anti-British propaganda from the radio. The Italian Press was
hostile. Anti-British intrigues were stimulated in the Near East.
The Rome-Berlin Axis was stronger. He told Eden he feared things
would end in deadlock "if we stuck to it that we could not open
conversations till the League had given us permission".
During December, Eden had further meetings with Grandi, but
with little result. When it was suggested that recognition should
be accorded to Italian conquests in Abyssinia, Eden replied that
before any concessions were made, the Italians should prove their
goodwill by calling off anti-British propaganda. Here was the
cause of the delays against which Chamberlain was chafing.
Halifax sided with the Prime Minister let the talks begin, was his
opinion, and then propaganda would cease.
THE WIDENING RIFT
HAVING wound up the business of 1937, Eden went south
for a much-needed break. The Prime Minister took over the
Foreign Office. During this interim period there occurred the in-
cident of the rebuff to Roosevelt. It was the first major contribution
to affairs to be placed to the credit of the new amateurs in diplomacy.
The month of January was nearly half spent. Eden was still in
the South of France, restoring his strength. Messages reached him
from his officials in the Foreign Office suggesting that develop-
ments had occurred that required his immediate return. On arrival
at Dover he was met by Alexander Cadogan. By the time he reached
London he was acquainted with the facts.
During his absence President Roosevelt had made a suggestion
for intervention in the affairs of Europe. The Prime Minister
without so much as calling the Cabinet to consider it, had sent him
a discouraging reply.
Eden was perturbed both on personal grounds and on the
broader question of policy. It was impossible for him to ignore
the fact that he had received no communication from the Prime
Minister about the Roosevelt proposal. He was dismayed by the
possible consequences in America of the terms in which Chamber-
lain had repulsed the President's suggestion.
Eden had never lost sight of the influence any British action
might have on United States' opinion. He would allow nothing to
lessen Roosevelt's sympathy for the democracies. He had followed
with no detached interest the President's patient efforts to counter-
act American isolationism. As recently as the previous Autumn,
Roosevelt had braved his opponents by calling for a boycott
against aggressor states. The isolationists had shown their strength,
but the President, master of the political craft, had continued in his
course of awakening his fellow-countrymen to the responsibilities
and danger of the United States in a dictator-menaced world.
What was the value to Britain of presidential interest and
THE WIDENING RIFT 99
sympathy? A generation that had witnessed decisive influence of
American participation in the latter stages of the first war should
have been unanimous on that point, but it was not so. Judgment
is so often coloured by likes and dislikes that are more powerful
in their pull than the voice of reason.
Here Eden saw with clear vision and Chamberlain, for all his
sharp intelligence, was at fault. He had confided to his diary his
belief that it was "always best and safest to count on nothing from
the Americans but words". If Eden were inhibited by his personal
dislike from dealing with Mussolini, Chamberlain was barred by
his prejudices from making a proper evaluation of the pkce of
America in the reckoning of affairs. Later he was to make a similar
miscalculation over the Russians. It was something of an achieve-
ment to have undervalued both the great republics.
Roosevelt had for some months been pondering over inter-
vention in Europe's affairs. On January n, 1938, his under-Secretary
of State called on the British Ambassador in Washington, Sir
Ronald Lindsay, with a confidential message for the Prime Minister.
The President was frankly concerned over the worsening of the out-
look in Europe. As a means of contributing to an easing of tension
he was considering the summoning of a conference at Washington
of the lesser States of Europe as a preliminary to approaches to the
major powers. Before taking any action he wished to know what
view the Prime Minister would take of such a step.
In forwarding this communication to London, Lindsay strongly
urged that the President's proposal should be accepted. Failure to
agree might have unfortunate results on the prospects of Anglo-
American co-operation. It was clear that Roosevelt was eager to
participate in a solution of Europe's troubles. He was, indeed, so
attracted by the idea that he was prepared to ignore the cautionary
advice of his Secretary of State, Cordell Hull.
Eden, with his conception of the importance of American co-
operation, would have been prompt to extend his support. The all-
important consideration was that the United States would have
been committed to participation in the affairs of Europe and, in the
future reckoning, Hitler would have to take account of American
opinion. What was there in Europe to be set against this? What
greater force could have been enlisted on the side of the democ-
100 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
Chamberlain's mind was not influenced by any such considera-
tions. His thoughts were concentrated on his hopes for detaching the
Duce from the Axis. Presidential intervention would, doubtless,
cause new postponements. The apostle of appeasement was not to
be deflected from his own schemes by suggestions from the White
Ronald Lindsay's telegram was received in the Foreign Office
on January 12, The day following Chamberlain came to London.
He lost no time over consultations, but sent his reply. The President
had asked for an answer by January 17. Chamberlain replied on the
1 3th. He had not considered it necessary to inform the Foreign
Secretary, or to consult his immediate advisers of the Foreign
Affairs Committee. Not until the matter was setded and the reply
sent did the majority of the Cabinet learn of the President's ap-
proach. Even accepting that the President had imposed a cast-iron,
inflexible time-limit, five days had been available for consideration
time to have brought home the Foreign Secretary, to have con-
sulted the Foreign Affairs Committee, to have summoned a full
Cabinet meeting. Chamberlain ruled out consultation, not so much
because he was high-handed as that he was small-minded, lacking
in a sense of the importance of the occasion.
His reply was cordial in terms, but discouraging in purpose.
He appreciated that the President had wished to receive his advice.
But he was engaged on his own efforts to reach an agreement with
Germany and Italy, in particular with Italy. Indeed, to promote
friendly relations with Italy, Britain was prepared to go so far as to
recognize the Italian occupation of Abyssinia. Would the President
consider whether his new proposal might not cut across the Prime
Minister's efforts? Would it not be better for the President to post-
pone what he had in mind?
He paid tribute to the President's "courageous initiative",
praise that could scarcely offset the chilling nature of the negative
response. To make the rebuff the more unpalatable was the dis-
quieting suggestion of extending recognition to the fruits of Italian
aggression, a point on which American opinion was most sensitive.
By the time Eden had returned to London, recalled by his
agitated officials, the reply was gone beyond recall. All that could
be done was to attempt to remove the worst impressions of the
Prime Minister's letter. Lindsay was immediately sent a telegram of
THE WIDENING RIFT 101
explanation for the President's consideration. By then, Roosevelt
had taken his decision. He would defer his plan. He added that he
was gravely concerned over the according of recognition to the
conquest of Abyssinia.
Cordell Hull, in outspoken terms, told the Ambassador that this
would arouse feelings of disgust, and would be represented as "a
corrupt bargain completed in Europe at the expense of interests
in the Far East in which America was intimately concerned".
At this stage, the Foreign Affairs Committee gave consideration
to the correspondence. Eden succeeded in imparting to its members
something of his own disquiet. On his recommendation^ further
explanations were sent to Washington, particularly regarding the
recognition question. A cordial reply was received. The President
appreciated the Prime Minister's frank and friendly spirit. "I am
willing to defer making the proposal," Roosevelt added.
A day or two later (January 21) Chamberlain telegraphed again.
By this time the light had dawned. He had been made to appreciate
the importance Roosevelt attached to the plan, and had become
concerned not to disappoint him. In this changed mood, he sug-
gested that there was no reason for postponement. If the President
took the initiative the British Government would support him.
It had taken eight days to complete the adjustment of his ageing
and self-opinionated mind to a proposition that had lain a little
outside the range of his previous conceptions. It carried its own
criticism of the first unfortunate rebuff.
Chamberlain's defenders have argued that he was hurried into
sending his initial reply, but he had expended no more than 24 of
the 150 hours available. He had declined to take time or counsel.
He did not think it necessary, either as an advantage to himself or
out of courtesy to his colleague, to summon home the Foreign
Secretary for consultation. It is asserted by Lord Templewood that
Eden's presence would have made no difference to the result "I
doubt whether our answer would have been substantially altered
if he had been in London." It is difficult to accept this as a fact, or as
a contribution to Chamberlain's defence. Eden's return was followed
by a change of mind on Chamberlain's part, a fairly complete
reversal of opinion. Presumably the Prime Minister's mind was not
so far beyond the reach of the suggestions of others that Eden, on
the spot, could not have assisted him in the first instance to the
102 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
conclusion to which, when the mischief had been done, Eden
For some weeks afterwards there were promptings from
London and offers of co-operation in the presidential plan. At last
came the final word, accompanied by an expression of warm
appreciation of the Prime Minister's messages. As the plan had been
indefinitely postponed "the opportunity would not recur".
Lord Temple wood, in his account of these proceedings, in which
as Sir Samuel Hoare he took a leading part, has pleaded that the in-
cident had ended in friendly understanding and had caused no
feelings of resentment on the part of the President. It may be
so. But no loss of resentment is a poor outcome from an offer that
would have brought the United States President into the position of
assuming some responsibility for participation in the affairs of
Europe. The consequences that might have flowed from this are
Templewood has further contended that it was a valid objection
that the President might not have been able to bring his purpose to
success. Not the immediate results of the Roosevelt conference, but
the fact that Roosevelt should have been seen by the world at
large, and the dictators in particular, to have taken such an initiative
was the matter of importance.
On the relations between the Foreign Secretary and the Prime
Minister, the incident had immediate consequences. They had been
in open disagreement. On this occasion, Eden's will had so far pre-
vailed that Chamberlain had been induced to change his mind,
but they had come within sight of the parting of the ways. Keith
Feiling, in his biography of Chamberlain, records that the incident
"thrust in the wedge" between the two men a little deeper.
"While Chamberlain feared the dictators would pay no heed [to
the Roosevelt Conference] or else would use this 'line-up of the
democracies' as a pretext for a break, it was found on Eden's return
that he would rather risk that calamity than the loss of American
goodwill. There was a first breath of resignation."
In due course the full Cabinet was informed of what had
transpired. No mention, however, was made of the divergence of
opinion between Foreign Secretary and Premier. There were hints
in the newspapers of disagreements, but the facts were not generally
disclosed beyond the inner circle of the Cabinet in which policy
THE WIDENING RIFT 103
was evolved. Duff Cooper, at the Admiralty, was completely unin-
formed, and noted in his diary that there were no foundations for
the rumours of disagreement.
There were all the appearances of deliberate concealment in
this policy of secrecy. Believers in constitutional proprieties would
have learned with disquiet that a junta of Ministers should have kept
from the Cabinet a question of ministerial disagreement involving
relations with the President of the United States.
For the Foreign Secretary there were unfortunate consequences.
Throughout his career Eden has been distinguished by unimpeach-
able loyalty to his chief. In the War Cabinet he was to be twitted
on his subservience to Churchill. To Chamberlain, from whom he
differed, his sense of loyalty was strong. He disdained to break the
harmony of the team.
The virtues of private life are not necessarily qualities to be
commended in the public service. There are times, when the well-
being or security of the State is involved, when a man must brush
aside his sense of personal loyalty and brave the reproaches of
disloyalty for the common good.
Eden was now becoming isolated in a Cabinet that was acquiesc-
ing in a policy of appeasement with which he could not agree.
There were those amongst the younger ministers and many outside
the Ministry who shared his anxieties and would have followed a
lead had he chosen to give one. Outside the Government the force of
Churchill was opposed to Chamberlain's course.
Eden could have rendered service by informing the full Cabinet
of his complaints against Chamberlain. Full and frank discussion
might have produced a change at least of emphasis, if not in direc-
tion, in Government policy, avoiding some of the errors that were
to follow. Eden's loyalty prevailed. When the next disagreement
shortly arose, and was brought out into the open, he suffered from
the consequences of his previous forbearance.
ON the afternoon of Saturday, February 19, a Cabinet
Council assembled at 10 Downing Street, Only at a time of
crisis are Ministers called upon to confer during the week-end. On
this occasion the reason for the summons was unknown to some of
them, Duff Cooper, First Lord of the Admiralty, among them.
Ministers met to be informed of the rift that had opened between
the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary. They were sur-
prised to learn that matters had gone so far as to involve Eden's
It was a shock to the quiet peace of the week-end. Not only the
future of Anthony Eden, but the survival of the Ministry might be
involved. In the country, his reputation was of the highest. Younger
members of the party were his supporters. Were a hundred M.P.s
to go into the wrong division lobby the Ministry would fall.
Beyond the political horizon at home was the stormy scene of
Europe, with Hitler engaged in the first stages of the rape of Austria.
Behind the clash of the two protagonists, the ageing Premier and
the young Minister, was the issue of the deployment of the force of
British influence on international affairs. It was but dimly discerned
through the cigar smoke of that Cabinet Council.
The final break between Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary
had not been long delayed after the divergence on the Roosevelt
letter. When that matter had been disposed of, the way was clear for
resuming the discussions with the Italians. Eden crossed the Channel
on January 25 to ascertain the views of the French Government. He
secured approval for the general line of policy over Italy and it
was emphasized to him that any general settlement on which
recognition of the conquest of Abyssinia was to be made to depend,
should be made to include the withdrawal of volunteers from
Spain. About 40,000 Italian troops still remained, despite the
agreement that volunteers should be withdrawn. Eden entirely
agreed that Italy would need to honour her word and carry out a
substantial withdrawal as a preliminary to the opening of negotia-
Back in London, he found Grandi reluctant to meet him at the
Foreign Office. The Ambassador was well aware of the difference
in outlook between Chamberlain and his Foreign Secretary. Eden,
he knew, would raise the Spanish question which the Duce wished
to evade. Chamberlain, he had reason to suppose, would not.
There had been unofficial approaches that had disclosed the
Premier's eagerness to get negotiations going.
Lady Chamberlain, Sir Austen's widow, had been staying in
Rome. She retained the friendship with Mussolini that had de-
veloped in earlier days, when her husband had had cordial talks
with the Duce, and when Locarno had been amicably concluded.
Unofficial exchanges proceeded through her between Rome and
10 Downing Street. Through her, Count Ciano, the Duce's son-in-
law, and Foreign Minister, conveyed an urgent warning that
"terrible things" were about to happen to Europe and that if
Britain did not at once come to terms with Italy, it might be too
Early in February, Neville, through his sister-in-law, received
a message that Mussolini was ready for an early agreement to cover
all points in dispute. Still Grandi delayed his visit to the Foreign
Office. To a direct invitation from Eden he pleaded, in refusal, a
prior engagement at golf. It was contrived to make Chamberlain
place the blame for the delay on Eden and his departmental
These were Eden's least happy days in office. Sensitive natures
are exposed to stresses of which men of tougher fibre are not
conscious. From the strains of Whitehall it was refreshing to be
amongst the electors of the Midlands, and from their loyal support,
to derive the strength to continue to bear the burdens of office. It
was an inspiration to establish contact with the people who so
patently put their trust in him. Like Baldwin, he was fortified by the
conviction that in its broad lines, his policy was a fulfilment of the
will of the men and women in the heart of England.
Turning from the troubles of Europe, he stood before the
young members of the Junior Imperial League and talked to them of
the ideals that were the basis of his own political faith. From the
platform of Birmingham's Town Hall (February 12) he delivered
IO6 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
what, unknown to him, was to be his last public speech as Chamber-
lain's Foreign Secretary. He spoke of the difficulties and anxieties of
his work and in a message addressed to them found words of en-
couragement for himself. "I know the difficulties which beset us
all. But youth looks forward with vigour and faith. The only hope-
less creed is fatalism and the belief that to struggle for your ideals
is not worth while, the feeling that somehow your ideals will be
cheated in the end.
"The essential factor in diplomacy, as in every branch of life, is
the attitude of mind in which we approach our tasks in the present
and our prospects in the future. Let that attitude be one of refusal
to accept defeat/' And then, a little later followed a declaration of
the faith that has carried him through divers negotiations. "I think
that the main lesson of diplomacy is that, in the long run, nothing is
After the refreshing contacts of the week-end, he returned to
Whitehall and the perplexities over Italy. The Prime Minister was
restive and impatient. Time was running against him. There were
protests over delays from Ciano, in Rome. Chamberlain had worked
himself into the state of fearing that Italian opinion would be
raised to white heat against Britain and that there might be some
overt act of hostility. He resolved to break the deadlock by side-
tracking the Foreign Office and arranging a meeting with Grandi
through an unofficial go-between, an official in the Conservative
Party. The Ambassador was delighted by the invitation.
There is an unpleasant undercurrent about these preliminaries
to the meeting. The Prime Minister involved himself in the appear-
ances of a backstairs intrigue, casting an implied slur on his Foreign
Minister. It was natural that it should have given rise to suspicion
that he was intriguing against his own Minister. In some fashion he
was. The sinister suggestion came to be made that he accepted
Grandi's aid against Eden, whose resignation from office he wished
to bring about. Chamberlain's defenders have denied the truth of
this. Had he acted more openly the appearances could not have given
colour to the suspicion.
At this stage, German moves against Austria seemed to add
urgency to negotiations with the Italians. Hitler had put pressure
on the Austrian Chancellor, Schussnigg, to admit the Nazis to his
Cabinet. Lacking support to resist, Schussnigg had submitted. The
days of Austria's independence were numbered. From Rome,
Grandi was instructed to use Austria's situation as a ground for the
immediate opening of conversations in London. Grandi was to let it
appear that Mussolini was no more anxious to-day than yesterday to
grasp the English by the hand. Should the Nazis, in the meanwhile,
march into Austria and present the world with a fait accompli, then
"there would exist no alternative and we should have to direct our
policy in a spirit of sharp, open, immutable hostility towards the
Eden was present at 10 Downing Street at the meeting between
Chamberlain and Grandi. The talks ranged over Abyssinia, Austria
and Spain. When Grandi spoke of German menaces to Austria, it
was put to him that Hitler had already obtained Mussolini's assent
to Austria's absorption in the Reich. This Grandi denied, a denial
that Chamberlain accepted but that Eden did not.
The question of foreign auxiliaries in Spain was raised. Cham-
berlain asked for formal Italian acceptance of the formula for with-
drawal of volunteers that had been prepared by the Non-Inter-
vention Committee. Grandi undertook to obtain Mussolini's
acceptance of this during the interval of the week-end. Chamber-
lain agreed that, by then, he would have taken the Cabinet's
decision whether talks should be opened forthwith.
During the interview no suggestion was made that either
Britain or Italy would take action to preserve Austria. Both
Chamberlain and Grandi used Austria to add point to their argu-
ments and both to the same purpose the immediate opening of
After the interview, when the discussions were reviewed,
Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary were at variance on the next
step. Chamberlain favoured immediate talks because of the urgency
of Austria's peril. He was prepared to accept Mussolini's word
about withdrawing from Spain.
Eden stood out against any form of compromise. He was not to
be influenced by considerations of Austria, holding that Anglo-
Italian talks would not have any effect on Hitler's intentions. He
was confident that, talks or no talks, the Duce would not intervene
to save Austria, and that Hitler was acting on the certainty of the
Duce's private assurances. Nor was Eden prepared to accept
Mussolini's word about Spain it had proved too often to be
108 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
valueless. Acceptance of a formuk for bringing back Italian troops
from Spain was not sufficient. Let the withdrawals begin it would
then be soon enough to start negotiating.
The differences developed. Chamberlain would recommend the
Cabinet to agree to immediate talks with Italy. Rather than agree,
Eden would quit office. Such was the situation when the Cabinet
met on February 19. If talks were agreed to then Eden would go.
If talks were not agreed to, then the Prime Minister might resign, or
at least, so it was made to appear.
Eden now experienced the handicap of his sense of loyalty and
his instinctive dislike of being the cause of dissension. He was a
seceder, not the leader of a revolt. He could not acquiesce in the
leader's policy, but he made no attempt to persuade others to rally
to him as the champion of an alternative. Against the determined
leadership of his chief he offered not opposition but non-co-
Members of the Cabinet who met that Saturday afternoon had
to reach a decision over differences of which most of them then
heard for the first time. They were invited to make up their minds
on the fairly simple issue immediate talks with Mussolini, or talks
deferred till by their behaviour the Italians had given proof of their
better intentions. With Hitler threatening Austria's independence,
the answer to reasonable minds seemed clear: Let the talks begin.
The ostensible difference was not one of principle but of timing.
With his shrewdness as a politician Chamberlain confined the
issue to the tactical question, on which his case was strong.
Granted that there should be negotiations, then let them begin
without deky. But was it worth while to negotiate at all? This was
delicate ground and Chamberlain directed attention away from it.
Cabinet Ministers were dismayed at the prospect of losing their
young colleague. They were conscious of the advantages to be
gained from his experience in affairs, and his prestige in the country
and of the political consequences that might flow from his defection.
They addressed themselves to the task of finding a formula, words
to disguise differences and promote a compromise. The proceedings
were adjourned till the day following.
Ministers outside the informed circle handling foreign affairs
were disturbed. Duff Cooper feared the outcome. If Anthony left
them it would be a body blow for the Government. There were
crowds in Downing Street as Ministers parted, and Eden was
loudly cheered as he appeared outside Number Ten. "This I am
afraid will stiffen his attitude," Duff Cooper reflected, "because he
will feel that he has popular opinion behind him, which indeed he
When the discussions were resinned it emerged that the differ-
ences had struck deeper than had at first appeared. The Prime
Minister reported that he had received assurances from Grandi that
Mussolini would accept the formula for Spanish volunteers. It was a
This assurance counted for nothing with Eden. At bottom, as
Chamberlain knew, he did not think it worth the while to talk
with Mussolini or with Hitler either, until they had established
that peaceful intentions backed their words.
Some divulgence followed of the other difficulties between
Chamberlain and his Minister the letter sent to Mussolini with-
out consultation with the Foreign Secretary, the rebuff to President
Roosevelt that had first caused hints of resignation. These personal
matters served only to obscure the simple issue about talks with the
Italians. They were not allowed to illuminate the wider theme of
the proper course and conduct of foreign affairs.
There is nothing in the records so far available to suggest that
the fundamental issue of negotiating with the dictators was ever
directly raised. The Premier's doctrine of appeasement seems to
have been acquiesced in without challenge.
No way was found, there was no way to find, to bridge the
gulf between the two men. Eden, indeed, was not present at the
final discussions. By letter he had informed Chamberlain of his
inability to accept any of the suggested compromises. He was
bent on resignation and he went. With him resigned Cranborne
(Lord Salisbury) his under-Secretary.
That night an exhausted Prime Minister summed up the result:
"I have won through but it has been only with blood and tears."
He could look forward to pursuing his appointed policy without
the doubting Minister seeking to restrain him. Instead there would
be Halifax as Foreign Secretary, a man ripe in experience of men
and affairs and one made acceptable to him by close identity of
views. In future there would be no need for backstair methods for
the accomplishment of the Prime Minister's aims.
110 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
That night another man reflected on Eden's resignation and
brooded far into the night on the possibilities of the unforeseeable
but plainly menacing future. A telephone call to Chartwell had
informed Winston Churchill of the news. He was dismayed. "On
this occasion only, sleep deserted me. From midnight to dawn I lay
on my bed consumed by emotions of sorrow and fear. There
seemed one strong, young figure standing up against the long,
dismal drawling tides of drift and surrender, of wrong measure-
ments and feeble impulses. He seemed to me at this moment to
embody the life-hope of the British nation. Now he was gone."
With the passing of time there will be additions to our know-
ledge of the circumstances of the resignation. Little remains to be
known of Eden's attitude; that has been clear. But concerning the
part played by Neville Chamberlain much remains uncertain. He
appeared to his Cabinet at the time, and to his biographer later, as
one who was concerned to go as far as his principles permitted to
retain Eden in the team.
Since then, he has been made to appear in the role of a man
playing a double game of pretending a concern to retain Eden
and of plotting against him to ensure his departure. Thus Duff
Cooper (Viscount Norwich), recalling in his autobiography the
events of the crisis, wrote: "The Prime Minister was in fact de-
liberately playing a part throughout the Cabinet discussions. While
allowing his colleagues to suppose that he was as anxious as any of
them to dissuade the Foreign Secretary from resigning, he had in
reality determined to get rid of him and had secretly informed the
Italian Ambassador that he hoped to succeed in doing so. Had I
known this at the time, not only would I have resigned with Eden,
but I should have found it difficult to sit in Cabinet with Neville
This conclusion, so damaging to Chamberlain's reputation, is
based upon a passage from the report that Grandi sent back to Rome
on February 1 8 on his interview in Downing Street. He wrote:
"Chamberlain, in fact, in addressing his questions directly to me
expected from me this was obvious nothing more nor less than
those details and definite answers which were useful to him as
ammunition against Eden. This I at once realized and I naturally
tried to supply Chamberlain with all the ammunition which I
considered might be useful to him to this end. There is no doubt
that in this connection the contacts previously established between
myself and Chamberlain through his confidential agent proved to
be very valuable. Purely as a matter of historical interest I inform
your Excellency [Count Ciano] that yesterday evening, after the
Downing Street meeting, Chamberlain sent his agent to me (we
made an appointment in an ordinary public taxi) to say that 'he
sent me cordial greetings, that he had appreciated my statements,
which had been very useful to him, and that he was confident that
everything would go very well the next day'/'
Was Grandi telling the factual truth? Lord Templewood, in
his account of the Eden resignation, denies it. He pours scorn on
the suggestion of a Chamberlain intrigue, categorically declares
the untruth of the meeting in a taxi and dismisses the passage as the
product of a too vivid imagination. "He produced a story as good
as was ever put into a diplomatic dispatch. Indeed it was one of
those pictures that had every quality except a resemblance to the
original." But the statements here dismissed were sufficiently
convincing for Duff Cooper. Both men were members of the
Cabinet, though Templewood was better informed, but the
essential difference between them was that Duff Cooper had a mis-
trust for Chamberlain with whom Hoare was in sympathy. So the
matter hangs in suspense, an issue undetermined. Had Chamberlain
not indulged in devious approaches the occasion for the suspicions
could not have arisen.
The announcement of the resignation was carried by the news-
papers on the morning of the Monday (February 21). There was
an immediate debate in the House of Commons lasting over two
days. Ministers approached it with a certain uneasiness, for Eden's
reputation was of the highest and it was not known to what extent
he might seek to exploit the occasion. There was no ground for
As a prelude to the debate, Eden made the personal explanation
that according to Parliamentary precedent it is the custom for a
retiring Minister to offer. There was a full attendance of members
to hear him, the second Foreign Minister to quit office in a little
more than two years. He spoke with evident restraint and did no
more than skim over the surface of the differences that had divided
him from his leader and his colleagues. First, the Italian question
and his objection to the opening of conversations before Italy had
112 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
given proof of her good faith. The objections were stated with
equal clarity and terseness "The attitude of the Italian Government
has not justified the immediate opening of conversations. Italian
propaganda against Britain is rife throughout the world. I am
myself pledged to this House not to open conversations with Italy
until this propaganda ceases. I have been responsible in the past
eighteen months for several attempts to better our relations with
Italy. They have ah 1 failed.
"In January of last year we signed the Anglo-Italian agreement
(the Gendemen's agreement). Within a very few days the first
consignment of Italian troops left for Spain. It may not have been
a breach of the letter of the agreement, but it was of the spirit. The
same agreement contained a clause, a specific clause dealing with the
cessation of propaganda. Yet propaganda was scarcely for an instant
"Last summer the Prime Minister and Signor Mussolini ex-
changed letters and relations took a marked turn for the better.
Then there ensued the incidents in the Mediterranean [Italian sub-
marine attacks] and the glorification by the Duce of the victories
of Italian forces in Spain. We cannot risk a further repetition of
these experiences, we have had assurances enough in the past.
"Recent days have seen the successive violations of inter-
national agreements and attempts to secure political decisions by
forcible means. We are in the presence of the progressive
deterioration of respect for international obligations. It is quite
impossible to judge of these things in a vacuum. This is a
moment for die country to stand firm, not to plunge into
"It is the traditional method of diplomacy to prepare for con-
versations before they are opened. It is seldom right to depart from
that traditional method that has been tested by time and experience.
It is certainly not right to do so because one party to the negotiations
intimates that it is now or never. Agreements that are worth while
are never made on the basis of a threat. Nor in the past has our
country been prepared to negotiate on such conditions."
Leaving the immediate question of Italy, he referred to the
incident of the Roosevelt approach, but in terms that did not put
the facts before the House. There had been another important
decision of foreign policy, he said, on which the difference between
him and the Prime Minister had been fundamental. There was, in-
deed, a real difference between them in outlook and of method. If
the government of the country was to speak with undivided voice
on international affairs, it was essential that Prime Minister and
Foreign Secretary should have a similar outlook and wish to pursue
similar methods. The more intense the interest which each one of
them took in foreign affairs, the more imperative did that unity
In a brief final passage he stated his objections to the course the
Prime Minister was following, the policy of appeasement. "Of
late," he said, "the conviction has steadily grown upon me that
there has been too keen a desire on our part to make terms with
others, rather than that others should make terms with us. This
never was the attitude of this country in the past. It should not in
the interests of peace be our attitude to-day.
"I do not believe that you can make progress in European
appeasement, more particularly in the light of the events of the past
few days (Austria), if we allow the impression to gain currency
abroad that we yield to constant pressure. Progress depends on the
temper of the nation and that temper must find expression in a firm
spirit. The spirit I am confident is there; not to give voice to it is,
I believe, fair neither to this country nor to the world."
The House heard him with respect and sympathy, recognizing
his sincerity of purpose. There was relief among the Ministers and
on the part of their opponents some disappointment. This was not
the speech that was going to divide a party and bring down a
government. Nor, indeed, had that been the speaker's intention.
The speech reflected the man admirable in tone, a simple straight-
forward statement of the facts of the situation, as easy to follow as
one of his expositions of a problem to a conference, and as little
impassioned. Behind it was the note of regret regret at leaving a
task to which he had devoted himself, regret at finding himself at
variance with men with whom he had been associated.
Should he have said more? The man's poise was perfect. He had
risen above any ignoble feelings. A lesser man might have tried to
attack and avenge himself on the leader from whom he differed.
His loyalty to his leader and his party was beyond reproach but
was not something more required of him than personal loyalty?
He believed that the policy which he deplored was inimical to his
114 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
country's interests. "Was it not therefore his duty to have placed
loyalty to his country before loyalty to his friends and to have de-
nounced appeasement and the appeasers as being destructive of his
country's safety? "This never was the attitude of this country in the
past," he had proclaimed. Then, should he not have devoted his
power and his prestige to opposing a course he considered to be
disastrous? You may pose the question and the reply is the simple
one such was not this man's way. It is not in Eden's nature to be
the leader of a revolt.
Cranborne, his under-Secretary, was more forceful in his
language, and one sentence roused the House. Having specified the
various means by which the Italians could have attested their good
faith, he declared, "I must confess that in default of such evidence
for His Majesty's Government to enter on official conversations
would be regarded not as a contribution to peace, but as a sur-
render to blackmail."
It remained for Churchill to point the moral to the tale in
phrases charged with full force of resentment and apprehension.
"This last week has been a good week for the dictators one of the
best they ever had. The German dictator has laid his heavy hand
upon a small but historic country [Austria] and the Italian dictator
has carried his vendetta against Mr. Eden to a victorious conclusion.
The conflict between them has been long. There can be no doubt
whatever that Mussolini has won. All the majesty, power, and
dominion of the British Empire have not been able to secure the
success of the causes which were entrusted to the late Foreign
Secretary by the general will of Parliament and of the country.
All over the world, in every land, under every sky and system of
government, wherever they may be, the friends of England are dis-
mayed and the foes of England are exultant."
The exultations of the Italians was undisguised. Eden's fall was
proclaimed by the Italian Press as another victory for the Duce. A
contemptuous valediction from Hitler testified to the Fuehrer's
satisfaction. Nothing Chamberlain could have done could have con-
tributed so effectively to Italian cordiality for the opening of the
Anglo-Italian conversations that were straightway pushed ahead.
It was a tribute unimpeachable in its sincerity to the character and
purposes of Anthony Eden.
MUNICH AND AFTER
FOR eighteen months Anthony Eden was free from the cares
of office. Gifted with sight to penetrate the future, he would
have found cause for satisfaction that he had been spared the
humiliations that lay ahead. He was not one who in the name of
appeasement was to tread the path to Munich. Lacking this gift of
foresight, he would have been less than human not to have felt the
twinges of regret at being severed from the work to which, for six
years, he had been devoted. But never did he doubt, whatever the
forfeit he must pay, that what he did was right. He had the comfort
of the support of those in the party and the country whose opinion
he valued, those who believed that right should come before ex-
pediency. The personal question of his own political future was not
one that had entered into his calculations.
There was a stirring of indignation when he heard it suggested
that, as with his predecessor in office, ill-health had played its part
in affecting his judgment and so had contributed to his resignation.
It was a relief to hear a young member, Ronald Cardand, rise to
suggest that not health but differences in age might have caused the
rift between Chamberlain and his Minister "Perhaps those who
scan the horizon and have many years ahead of them look with
rather different eyes at all the problems of to-day from those who
have not so many years ahead."
Eden was still suffering from annoyance when he addressed his
constituents at Leamington, to render an account of his action and
to express his thanks for the messages of goodwill and support he
had received from all parts of his constituency. The preliminary
courtesies fulfilled, he went straight to the question of his health
and the miserable innuendo.
"Judge for yourselves/* he said, "whether I look a sick man.
You shall be my witnesses there is no shred of truth in that sug-
gestion. The decision I took was not because I was tired, but because
of the conviction no other course was open. Tonight I am more
Il6 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
than ever convinced I was right. I should have despised myself had
I taken any other course."
Another argument had been used against him that as the
majority of his fellow-Ministers were against him, he should have
accepted their advice and carried on in office. "That view," he
said, "I cannot take, because, as Foreign Secretary, I was respon-
sible to Parliament and to the nation for the conduct of foreign
policy. No one else has that same responsibility in the same degree.
Had I remained I should, believing the opposite, have had to re-
commend this course [of appeasement] to the House of Commons,
a course I regard as precipitate. I should also have had to conduct
the negotiations, the outcome of which may have the gravest
consequences for the world. I should have been a hypocrite to do
There were, furthermore, the personal difficulties of working
with a Prime Minister with whose purposes he was not fully in
sympathy. "He has strong views on the ultimate aims of policy, on
conduct and on method. I also have strong views and they are not
the same. I have done my utmost to bridge the difference. I know
he has done the same. Last week-end I realized, as I know he
realized too, that this difference of outlook was deep and real. The
only possible course for a Foreign Secretary in those circumstances
was to resign. No man can conduct foreign affairs to best advantage
by the methods of another. To attempt it would be to make the
worst of both worlds."
At the meeting's close the constituents testified in appropriate
and enthusiastic fashion to their confidence in their member. In
that confidence they never wavered.
The break was carried through in accordance with the best
traditions of English public life. Chamberlain thought it right to
reward Eden with a friendly note of appreciation of the restraint he
had shown. "The most popular way for you would have been to
emphasize differences and to caE for support. I have no doubt you
have been urged to do this, perhaps by some who would not be
sorry to attack the Government. Whatever the temptations you
resisted them. The dignity and restraint of your speech must add
further to your reputation."
Chamberlain, at least, had every reason for satisfaction at the
way in which the resignation had passed off. There had been none of
MUNICH AND AFTER IIJ
the unedifying circumstances that had distinguished his own part-
ing from Lloyd George years before, and he could well afford to
play the magnanimous part. There is nothing so disarming of a
potential critic as to praise him for the good judgment he has shown
in his restraint..
Eden's resignation was shortly over-shadowed in the press of
events. It was the opening act of the crisis year of 1938. In March
Hitler occupied Austria. In May there was the first rumblings
of the storm over Czechoslovakia. In the autumn, after the alarums
of war came the masquerade of Munich.
Neville Chamberlain clung with an old man's tenacity to his
purpose of appeasement. At the back of his mind he harboured a
dim sense of resentment against Eden for having obstructed him.
Thus, after Hitler had taken over Austria, he wrote: "It is tragic to
think that very possibly this might have been prevented if I had had
Halifax at the Foreign Office instead of Anthony at the time I wrote
my letter to Mussolini." He wrote as though Mussolini had not been
irretrievably committed to Hitler beyond the influence of talks
with Britain. Nor was there reason to believe that had Mussolini
been induced to send a couple of Italian divisions to the Brenner,
that action would have deterred the Hitler of 1938. What was clear,
even to Chamberlain's eyes, was that, with Austria gone, the
Czechs could not be saved.
Eden, as the months of that troubled summer slipped by, medi-
tated much and spoke little. Looking with anxious gaze at the
dictator-menaced Continent, he responded in his own fashion to
the realities of the times. The old cries were resounding once again,
the old glorification of war. Nations were told that they were the
bravest on earth. Brave for what? Not to evolve the arts of peace,
but to be ready to slaughter members of another brave nation
somewhere else. All the panoply of arms, of drum and trumpet, was
out again, so short had been man's faith in enduring peace.
What was the lesson for England? He gave his answer at the
St. George's Day banquet. To uphold our ideals and our demo-
cratic conception of life, we must rouse ourselves to a supreme
effort such as was being made in the autocratic states. They followed
their purpose with passionate fervour. The British spirit must be
"This," he declared, "is a time when every endeavour should be
Il8 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
made to promote national unity. Only as a united nation can we give
of our best. We have to give of our best or lose the things we
treasure most. Party warfare for its own sake should have no place
in the scheme of things to-day. The need of the hour is for the
spiritual and material re-armament of the nation.
National unity and the abandonment of party strife was very
much in his thoughts in these days, but he did not overlook the
contribution that Conservatism could make. In troublous days a
special responsibility rested on the party.
What should be the conception of their political creed in
modern times? A virile progressive force, he responded, deter-
mined to uphold our national traditions, attached to our age-long
liberties and democratic institutions. As such it had incomparably
the greatest part to play in British political life, but only on the lines
that he had defined. The nation did not want to vote Socialist, still
less Communist. If the Conservative Party were to retain its
position it would be "only as the interpreter of all that is most
progressive in our creed and, as I think, all that is best in it".
Chamberlain lost no time in pushing ahead with his Italian
conversations. Eden's withdrawal made for ease in negotiation on
both sides. In April an agreement was signed. It cleared away
possible points of controversy on the Mediterranean, and struck the
bargain recognition for the Italians in Abyssinia when the Italians
were withdrawn from Spain. To what extent, if any, Mussolini had
been detached from Hitler time would show.
Churchill viewed the arrangements with misgiving, seeing a
complete triumph for Mussolini. What, he wrote to inquire, did
Anthony think? Eden shared Winston's doubts.
"Mussolini gives us nothing more than the repetition of pro-
mises previously made and broken by him, except for the with-
drawal of troops from Libya, troops that were probably sent there
originally for their nuisance value. It has now become clear that, as I
expected, Mussolini continued his intervention in Spain after the
conversations in Rome had opened. He must be an optimist indeed
who believes that Mussolini will cease increasing that intervention
now should it be required to secure Franco's victory."
The shadow of war moved nearer in the summer of 193 8. There
is no need, here, to repeat the story of the sacrifice of Czecho-
slovakia. It is not part of Eden's story. He was not present to greet
MUNICH AND AFTER Up
the returning Prime Minister, waving the declaration that bore
Hitler's signature, and announcing to the crowds in Downing
Street: "This is the second time in our history that there has come
back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour." The
crowds cheered that peace had been preserved. Their relief was
understandable. But the posturing Prime Minister, deluding himself
that Hitler's signature meant "peace for our time", that is beyond
comprehension unless Noel Coward was in the right "He has just
discovered what every chorus boy discovers in his first year on the
stage the heady quality of applause."
Eden took part in the debate that followed. From his place in
the House he heard the resignation speech of another Minister of
the Crown who had parted company with Neville Chamberlain
Duff Cooper, First Lord of the Admiralty. He heard Duff Cooper's
melancholy, castigating words of protest "It was peace with
honour I could not stomach. If he had come back from Munich
saying 'peace with terrible, unmitigated, unparalleled dishonour',
perhaps I would have stayed. But 'peace with honour' !"
There was, too, the sombre reckoning of accounts presented by
Winston Churchill in magnificent phrase and with dire foreboding.
"All is over. Silent, mournful, abandoned, broken, Czechoslovakia
recedes into the darkness. She has suffered in every respect by her
association with the Western democracies and the League of
Nations. ... In future the Czechoslovak State cannot be maintained
as an independent unity. . . . We are in the presence of a disaster of
the first magnitude which has befallen Britain and France. . . . This
is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the
first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by
year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and moral vigour
we rise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time."
Eden's speech cannot be ckssed with eloquence of that sus-
tained quality. But though couched in a lower key his words
carried their protest against what had been done and, perhaps be-
cause they were pitched in a lower key, they made the deeper im-
pression at that time when praise for the man of peace and not
blame for the appeaser was the note of the hour.
"Surely," Eden said, "the House will be agreed that foreign
affairs cannot indefinitely be continued on a basis of 'stand and
deliver'. Successive surrenders bring only successive humiliations
120 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
and they in their turn more humiliating demands. We have ktely
let there be no doubt about it run into grave dangers. However
the immediate issues have been resolved, no Member can doubt the
menacing dangers. These cannot be conjured by words of good-
will. They cannot be met even by negotiations, however sincerely
meant and well pursued. If they are to be met and overcome it can
only be by a revival of our national spirit, by a determined effort to
conduct a foreign policy upon which the nation can unite I am
convinced such a policy can be found and by a national effort in
the sphere of defence very much greater than anything that has
been attempted hitherto. If there ever were a time for a call for a
united effort by a united nation, it is my conviction that time is
It has been the case argued on behalf of Neville Chamberlain
that by the surrender of Munich he bought time for re-arming. If it
be so, he incontinently squandered the commodity he so dearly
purchased. Time worked in favour of Hitler rather than the
democracies. Hitler made his Germans labour. In Britain there con-
tinued to be over a million and a half unemployed.
Chamberlain, through this period, is a problem for the political
psychologist. When he allowed his native shrewdness to operate he
saw Hitler and his men with realist eyes "Hitler's Germany, bully
of Europe movement of troops the only thing the Germans under-
stand,'* there were reflections in plenty that he committed to his
diaries. Yet, at the same time, he was in thrall to the spell of his
dream of being Europe's pacificator. So he allowed himself to place
some trust in Hitler in defiance of judgment and accumulating
experience. The record was plain enough Treaty of Versailles
broken, but Locarno would be kept; Locarno broken, no territorial
claims left in Europe; Austria entered, no interference intended with
Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia had been dismembered, yet
Chamberlain could accept Hitler's signature to a declaration of
peace "for our time".
There are episodes in the murk of our national past that men
of pride would sooner forget the inhumanities of the slave trade,
Jeffrey's bloody assize, the field of Peterloo, the fires of Smithfield
and the religious persecutions. In the Saxon kingdom there were
some who regretted the St. Brice's massacres, and men were not
overproud of Ethelred the Unready. The surrender of Munich has
MUNICH AND AFTER 121
been added to the black days in the national calendar, occasions
when we fell below the standards of our own past.
That autumn the broadening of the Ministry was recommended
by Halifax. Was Chamberlain to make an offer to Eden? He could
not bring himself to assent. The differences between them were not,
he realized, superficial they went deeper than Eden's speeches
might suggest. Eden pleaded for national unity as a means to speed
re-armament; he left out or chose not to see that "the conciliatory
part of this policy is just as important as the re-arming". With that
analysis of his views Eden would have agreed. His failing faith in
conciliation had not been restored by the Italian example.
In November, the House of Commons was asked to give its
approval to the coming into force of the Anglo-Italian Agreement.
Eden challenged this course on the ground that the Italians had not
carried out their part of the bargain. The facts were incontestable.
Despite the opening of negotiations with Britain, Italian inter-
vention in Spain had continued contrary to the Non-intervention
Agreement. German and Italian 'planes had kept up a continuous
bombardment of the Spanish Government lines. They attempted
to establish by air a blockade of Spanish Government ports, in which
British shipping had severely suffered. The presence of the Italian
aeroplanes, totalling over three hundred, had been a breach of
the Non-intervention Agreement; their continuing presence was
against the terms set down for the coming into force of the Anglo-
Italian pact. The honest truth was that the conditions the British
Government had laid down for the coming into force of the Agree-
ment had not been satisfied.
"We have waived it," Eden said. "Whether it be right or wrong
nothing is going to disguise that fact from the world. What con-
clusion will the world draw? They know we have embarked on a
policy of appeasement. The object is, and rightly, to eliminate
possible causes of war in a spirit of mutual collaboration and good-
will. But this can be carried out only if all concerned are willing to
subordinate purely national interests for the common good.
"This country has been ready to do this ready to do it for a
long time past. The Government has been ready to make and has
made very far-reaching concessions in their sincere desire to im-
prove the general atmosphere. But up to now there seems to me to
have been little sign of a similar spirit from other states concerned.
122 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
We are constantly giving and they are constantly taking. I am re-
minded of the charity collectors in 'The Hunting of the Snark'
they collect but they do not subscribe.
"I am driven reluctantly to the conclusion that there is a real
danger, if this policy of appeasement continues to be interpreted
in different ways by different countries. Many international prob-
lems will, it is true, have been eliminated in a sense satisfactory
to others, but our position and interests will have become gravely
imperilled. We shall be faced by a bigger international problem and
I gravely doubt whether we shall receive any assistance in solving
A week kter Eden made one of his most compelling speeches.
It was devoted to the subject that was his main preoccupation in
those dark days the need for a supreme national effort in the face
of international danger. It was the confirmation of Chamberlain's
analysis of their differences. Rejecting the idea of appeasement from
weakness, he demanded strength through national unity and en-
deavour. To this all cksses and all parties should make their con-
Democracy, he said, was faced with a challenge in every field
in commerce and the business field, no less than in foreign policy
and in armaments. It could be met only by an enormous voluntary
effort comparable in its scope and intensity with what other
nations were able to achieve by means of compulsion.
"This will call for a measure of self-surrender by every citizen.
It will call certainly from the wealthier classes for a certain measure
of sacrifice of present standards of life. It will call for a reorgani-
zation and above all for a speeding up in the working of the demo-
cratic machine. The time factor is all-important in the modern
world and the democracies, by comparison, are painfully slow.
It will mean something of a revolution in our national life.
"It can be done. No effort of which any other nation is capable
is beyond the power of our own people. But let us make no mis-
take. Unless such an effort is made there is no future for the British
people, and the things they stand for, except a progressive weaken-
ing of their authority and a slow sliding down the slope. Britain is
a first-class power or nothing. With her area and her population she
simply cannot live as a second or third-class power."
Looking on what had been done about national defence, he was
MUNICH AND AFTER 123
forced to say that despite the money and effort that had been spent,
we were not re-arming on a scale comparable with other states. The
difficulty was that we were still on a peace-time basis whereas they
were on a basis for war. Either we must employ new methods or
we must submit to permanent inferiority. The problem was
pressing, as the House knew well. Was it not a reproach, when the
man-power of the nation should be fully organized, that there should
be 1,750,000 unemployed? That total was a terrible indictment.
In a moving peroration he made his call for national unity. "How
can the greatest national effort be given by the nation unless it is
based on real unity, the outcome of a real demand from all sections
of the people and made on behalf of an England which is free
and united, an England of equal opportunity for all, regardless of
class or creed, an England in which comradeship is the spirit of the
nation, an England in which men refuse to rest content while
poverty continues to be the lot of the many? This then is the issue:
Can we adapt our methods to meet the challenge to democracy in
no spiteful or back-biting spirit, but in a determination to uphold our
traditions, to win for our people greater security, improved con-
ditions of life, and a wider hope for the future?
"There are immense reserves of goodwill waiting to be utilized,
but this can never be done on a party basis. My appeal is not merely
for a government of all the parties that is mere machinery. What
is more important is the spirit behind such unity, a determination
for a nation-wide endeavour, to win for our people not only
security of defence but security of employment in the factory and
on the land, a faith that democracy can achieve these things and a
realization that if it will not try it cannot survive/*
In fifteen years of debate Eden had given few such indications
of his quality as a speaker. Tied, as he had been, to the Foreign
Office brief, he had often sounded platitudinous and dull. Freed
from the restraints of office he rose above the old restraints to find
that he could appeal not only to the reason of his hearers but to
touch their emotions. The idealist who had troubled his fellow
Ministers when he was at the Foreign Office, was here stating his
political faith. For some of his party, the old style leave-well-alone
Tories, it was vaguely disquieting. But it was an expression in the
domestic field of aspects of his beliefs that had caught the ear
of the liberal-minded when he had championed the cause of the
124 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
League of Nations. Some months were still to pass before the man-
power of the nation was to be harnessed to the purposes of defence.
Under the pressure of war, guided by another Prime Minister, the
enormous efibrt Eden visualized was achieved and the national
unity he called for realized.
Chamberlain's leadership was promoting divisions rather than
unity. He looked on Munich as a diplomatic triumph that was to
inaugurate a new era. Ministers and supporters vied with each
other in praise of their chief. The younger men of the party heard the
fulsome tributes with dismay. They shared Eden's misgivings and
looked to the Front Bench for a lead towards the national unity he
advocated. No lead came the hungry sheep looked up, but were
not fed. Chamberlain rode his horse with a backward seat. He had
acquired his political thought too far back in Victorian days to be
able to leap ahead to the needs of the new times.
Eden was now one of a powerful group of dissentients of the
party Amery, Cranborne, Wolmer, and, newly arrived Duff
Cooper. Churchill's was the most powerful voice amongst them.
There were younger men following them Richard Law, Harold
Macmillan, Ronnie Tree, Ronald Cartland and many more. Their
patriotic purpose has long since been acclaimed, but in those days
they were looked at askance in the party, "Jitterbugs" became a
term of reproach. There were mutterings in the constituencies and
the influence of the party machine was suspected. Old colleagues
drew apart from Duff Cooper. Winston Churchill felt himself
compelled to demand a vote of confidence from his constituency
committee at Epping under threat of fighting a by-election. Men
and women of Warwick and Leamington remained behind their
member, but, with a martinet at the party's head, it required political
courage to testify against Chamberlain and appeasement.
Eden made use of his freedom from the ties of office to extend
his experience across the Atlantic (December 1938). Canada he had
visited fifteen years before, but he had set his foot on United States
territory only in the outpost of Hawaii. During his years in office
he had appraised the importance of United States opinion on
European affairs. He had never courted the Americans, but in his
assessment of any situation he had not left American reactions out
of the reckoning. Now he was able to take first-hand impressions of
the peoples of the great democracy over the water. The knowledge
MUNICH AND AFTER 125
he gained at first hand of the American outlook and way of life
was to prove an aid to understanding in the days of closer association
that lay ahead. The President received him at the White House and
he began to build up his acquaintance with America's leaders.
Both in Washington and New York he increased the popularity
that he had won as champion of the League of Nations. With those
important members of the American community, the newspaper
correspondents, he established cordial relations. During his stay he
went to a performance of Olsen and Johnson's zany show, "Hellza
Poppin'." Olsen drew a revolver, and aiming it at Eden, fired twice.
This was Olsen's idea of a joke, but Eden, less familiar with his
antics than were New Yorkers, shot out of his seat, and seemed to
be thoroughly annoyed. A moment later he saw the joke, and was
In an address to the Annual Congress of American Industry he
underlined the perils to which the democratic way of life on both
sides of the Atlantic was exposed. He spoke as an apostle not of
appeasement but of freedom, using phrases that foreshadowed the
speech on the four freedoms that Roosevelt was to make.
Twenty years before, he recalled, Americans, with their allies
in Europe, had fought to destroy the power of arrogant militarism
for ever, so that tolerance and justice, not force and greed, should
prevail. Twenty years after, they had to reflect ruefully how far
they were from their goal. Whatever else the world had been made,
plainly it had not been made safe for democracy. Other systems of
government threw out their strident challenge. The British and
Americans stood as democrats for the rights of the individual, with
the political purpose of assuring freedom for expression of thought
and conditions in which the individual human personality could
develop. According to the democratic view, man was not made for
the state but the state was made for man. After centuries of en-
deavour to realize the democratic ideal, attempts were being made
to persuade man to reverse his faith. Man was threatened by the
state he had himself created. It would be the greatest irony in
human history were mankind to allow progress to be stifled by the
setting up of this new idolatry the worship of the state before
whom all must bow down, to whom they must sacrifice their free-
dom of faith, of speech, of worship. No believer in democracy
could accept these false conceptions.
126 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
"Not that we," Eden went on, "to whom has been handed
down this heritage of freedom have a false conceit of ourselves. We
in Britain know full well that we are no paragons. There are many
chequered pages in our long history. One of the worst concerns our
dealings with you one hundred and sixty years ago. Yet, admitting
this, we know there are certain standards in which we believe and
which we will not yield up.
"As an Englishman addressing this great American audience
tonight, I tell you that the old beliefs are the beliefs of the English
people still and we will hold to them in the years ahead. We know
that we must champion our ideals and the faiths to which we hold
with an equal strength or others which we abhor will take their
place. This endeavour will tax our strength and endurance to the
"For all this in spirit we are preparing. Nor are we calling out
for help to others, nor seeking to hire others to pull our chestnuts
from the fire. We have no such intention. We are destined in our
generation to live in a period of emergency of which none can
see the end. If, throughout the testing time, we hold fast to our
faith, cradle it in stone and get steel to defend it, we can yet hand
on our inheritance of freedom intact to generations that are to
The address was well received by the American Press. Eden
could leave for home with the assurance that using words of admir-
able restraint, well attuned to the audience before whom he was
appearing, he had put over the cause of the free peoples of Europe
to the great republic of the West. It is not always the most strident
propaganda that is the most effective. On his return three days
before Christmas he remarked that "the last thing we want to do is
to entangle other countries in our own troubles". None the less there
was no ignoring the obvious that across the Atlantic there was a
very present help against time of trouble.
In the New Year, Eden noted with satisfaction that Roosevelt
was sounding a stronger note in his message to Congress. While
the emphasis was on "methods short of war" the President was
openly calling for defence against aggression.
La those days Eden's mind was much occupied with the prob-
lem of the state and the individual. He could reaffirm the funda-
mentals in the ancient British faith only by conceding the need for
MUNICH AND AFTER 127
some reform in British practice. He rejected with scorn the pro-
position that man was an instrument resigned blindly to serve the
purposes of the state, an unthinking cog in a remorseless machine.
On the other hand it was the duty of the state to seek better con-
ditions of life so that every individual had a fair chance to live and
grow. He was forced to concede that we were still far from attaining
"There is yet," he said to the Rotary International, "no true
equality of opportunity. The slums still exist even though the
mansion has become a rarity. There is much that is unjust and harsh
in modern England."
APPEASEMENT ENDS IN WAR
TN the opening weeks of 1939 there was an uneasy stillness on the
JLContinent. Chamberlain persuaded himself that appeasement
was yielding ground for hope. When it was put to him that to end
the party rift, Eden and Churchill might be brought back he de-
murred. To bring back the man they called "warmonger" might
adversely influence the dictators and induce them ' 'to break out now
before the democracies have further strengthened their position".
The sense of mission was strong in Chamberlain. So far had he
gone towards visualizing the beginning in Europe of the reali-
zation of his hopes that early in March he let fall a hint of expec-
tation that a disarmament conference might be held before the
year was out. This drew a remonstrance from Halifax, most
hesitatingly worded "I realize how immense is the personal
burden on you and how personal is the contribution that nobody
but you can make" but the remonstrance followed that the
Prime Minister should have spoken out without consultation. The
ink was scarcely dry on Halifax's letter before Hitler had torn
away the flimsy cobweb of hope.
Choosing the Ides of March for his stroke, the Fuehrer marched
into Prague and annexed Bohemia and Moravia. The rape of
Czechoslovakia was complete. After a last flicker of reluctance,
Chamberlain abandoned his delusions concerning Germany. Two
days later, in public speech, he asked the question: Is not this a step
in the direction of a German attempt to dominate the world by
force? He gave his response to the challenge: "No greater mistake
could be made than to suppose that because we believe war to be a
senseless and cruel thing, this nation has so lost its fibre that it will not
take part to the utmost of its power in resisting such a challenge if
it were made." Before the month was out the Prime Minister had
issued the formal reply to Germany. Poland was guaranteed against
aggression. As Churchill pronounced, Neville Chamberlain had a
hard core and did not like being cheated.
Behind the Premier were the people who shared his resentment.
At the Potsdam Conference in 1945. Next to Stalin are Molotov and Vishinsky,
who, below, is greeting the Foreign Secretary at Berlin Airport. In the Conference group
the domed head marks the presence of Sir Winston Churchill
In discussion at the White House with President Eisenhower, and, above,
welcoming Senator Wiley, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, whom he entertained at lunch at Carlton House Terrace
APPEASEMENT ENDS IN WAR 129
There was a quickening of opinion. The pacifism of former years,
the peace-at-any-price mood of Munich vanished. There would be
no further kowtowing to the dictators.
Eden, Churchill and their friends, less surprised and without
disappointment in their expectations, reacted to the occasion.
Their dismay was caused not by what Hitler had done, but by
Britain's unpreparedness to face what he might yet do. Rumours
filled the air. There was talk one night of an imminent German
air attack on London.
Eden and Churchill were together in the smoking-room of the
House of Commons when the evening newspapers had brought the
first brief reports of Hitler's march into Prague. They waited
anxiously to learn of the Prime Minister's reactions. They were
depressed by the terms of his first announcement in the House, and
were relieved by his sharp declaration that followed two days
later. Unite and arm became the watchword of the dissentient
Conservatives. Eden took the lead in pressing their case. He tabled
a motion on the order paper of the House calling for a vigorous
prosecution of British foreign policy and suggesting the formation
of a National Government on the widest possible basis. There was
the further proposal that such a Government should be entrusted
with full powers over the nation's industries, wealth and man-
power "as a means of enabling the country to put forward its
maximum military effort in the shortest possible time". Thirty-five
members of the group, headed by "Winston Churchill, backed the
motion with their signatures.
This motion was a declaration of faith, a contribution to the
creation of opinion, never a matter of practical politics. The
very fact it had been tabled was sufficient to negative its declared
purpose of promoting the formation of a new Ministry. Chamber-
kin supporters rallied to their chief. They protested against a re-
flection on his personal prestige. Chamberlain was not prepared to
widen the basis of his administration, certainly not by the in-
clusion of Churchill or of Eden, not until the last slender chance of
preserving peace had gone. Churchill in the Cabinet, the very
embodiment of a policy of war, would be construed by Hitler as
a declaration of defiance.
Mingling with back-benchers of all parties, Eden had become
aware of the strength of feeling Chamberlain roused across the
130 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
floor of the House. It was very different from the state of things in
Baldwin's day. Chamberlain reserved his appeasement approach
for the dictators; to his political opponents he presented the
partisan, scoring off them in the petty points of debate with relish
undisguised. There were times when a man conscious of the need for
the political and spiritual unity of the people was moved to doubts
about leadership that infuriated opponents and accentuated party
divisions. The yes-men of the party might susurrate approval.
There were others who were pained by the Premier's partisan
speeches 'jeering, pettifogging party speeches that divide the
nation". In the space of a few months Chamberlain dissipated some
of the political goodwill that his predecessor had built up.
The Continent had barely readjusted itself after the shock of
Hitler's coup in Czechoslovakia before the junior partner of the
Axis moved against Albania (April 7). The fruits of appeasement
were no more noticeable in Rome than in Berlin. To remove any
lingering doubts, the Pact of Steel was concluded (May 22) by the
Axis Foreign Ministers, Ribbentrop and Ciano. The terms of
Eden's warning were being abundantly fulfilled. "If the policy of
appeasement continues to be interpreted in different ways by
different countries many international problems will, it is true, have
been eliminated in a sense satisfactory to others, but our interests may
become gravely imperilled. 5 '
For those who wished to read his warnings and to follow the
course of his conduct of affairs, Eden's speeches were made avail-
able in book form. A handsome volume in blue, simply entitled
"Foreign Affairs", contained fifty speeches ranging in time from
his maiden appearance in the House of Commons to his debut before
an American audience. He had been curiously reluctant to consent
to their re-publication. The book was well received and the speeches
were pronounced to be in the best tradition of English statesmen,
delivered by one who, obviously, was deeply concerned for the
future of his country and of mankind.
In a pointed phrase in his preface he disposed of Prime Minis-
terial claims to exclusiveness as the onlie begetter of a policy of
conciliation in European affairs. "There has grown up of late," he
drily remarked, "a strange legend that the efforts of this country
to improve relations with the powers of the Rome-Berlin Axis
are of recent growth, that they constitute a new departure from
APPEASEMENT ENDS IN WAR 131
previous practice and. this new era was only recently initiated. The
pages of this book will show that there is no truth in this legend.
The truth is that, under successive governments and successive
foreign secretaries, the objective was always the same by patient
and persistent endeavour to promote understanding, more es-
pecially between the great powers of Western Europe. If there is a
criticism to be uttered it is rather that even in those days we were
perhaps too ready to accept professions of peaceful intentions at
their face value."
He also made use of the opportunity to dispose of his critics
who had attacked him for the questionnaire he had submitted to
Hitler after the Rhineland coup. They had ridiculed him for this
attempt to induce the Fuehrer to declare his intentions. The pre-
face recalled that after the entry into the Rhineland explanations
and even contributions to an accord were sought from Germany.
"No one," Eden added, "will be found to-day to condemn this
policy on the ground that it was too harsh. It is interesting to reflect
what might have been the consequence if those who were so loud
in their indignant criticism of the alleged tactlessness of the Foreign
Secretary of the day because he sought to discover the true meaning
of certain expressions of Herr Hitler's declaration of March 1936
had devoted their great talents instead to an exhaustive study of
'Mein Kampf '."
Great talents, in Eden's satirical phrase, had been sadly mis-
applied and misdirected. He was entitled to make his rejoinder.
His judgment had been better than most, as the record of his
As the summer of 1939 advanced, German mutterings about
Poland and Danzig and the Corridor mounted in tone and volume.
Hitler was looking for a new Munich in the East to give him the
Polish territories he coveted. How was Britain to give effect to her
guarantee to Poland?
Eden, as he surveyed the uncertain and anxious continental
scene, came to place his trust in Russia. To complete the peace-
front in Europe the Russians must be brought in. It was the sole
means yet remaining to convince Hitler that Britain meant business
over the guarantee to Poland and that another act of aggression
would be followed by war. Early in 1939 Eden urged a rapproche-
ment with Russia on a reluctant Government. He, with Churchill
132 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
and their associates, continued to the very end to press for an
A Tory M.P. and ex-Minister needed a sense of strategic realities
to rise above the normal prejudices of his political past to con-
template lining up Britain with the land of the Soviets. The ex-
perience of twenty years had confirmed Conservatives in their
mistrust and detestation of Communism as a system and of Com-
munists as the enemies of all non-Communist societies. At home,
Communist propaganda had poisoned party politics. Paid agitators
had stirred up trouble in the Trades Unions and attempted to cause
disaffection in the Fighting Services. Abroad, Communist agents
had been trouble-makers wherever scope for making trouble
existed. Eden had had personal experience enough as Foreign
Minister of the ramifications of Communist intrigue.
Nevertheless, rising above the antagonisms and suspicions of the
past, he held that the urgency of Hitler's menace overshadowed all
else. The past must be forgotten to save the future. He, and he
alone of Conservative leaders, had met Stalin face to face. As a
step towards reaching an understanding with the men of the
Kremlin he placed himself at the Government's disposal ready to
go as an envoy to negotiate with Stalin. Had his offer been accepted
history might have had a different unfolding. On his 1935 visit he
had made a favourable impression on Stalin. In 1939 he could have
paved the way to co-operation.
The Russians were ready to join with the democracies against
Hitler, though they had been excluded from the Munich meetings.
In April, Litvinoff made the offer of an alliance. Had Eden then
gone to Moscow with the authority of the British Government his
mission would have been accepted by the Russians, suspicious of
the West as the West of them, as evidence of the sincerity of British
intentions and good faith. The Government rejected the offer and
the chance was lost.
Chamberlain was not able to detach himself from his Victorian
roots and he confessed to the "most profound" distrust of Russia.
Nor had he faith in Russia's military strength and her "ability to
maintain an effective offensive even if she wanted to". He dis-
trusted her motives as having litde connection with British ideas
of liberty but to be concerned "only with setting everyone else by
APPEASEMENT ENDS IN WAR 133
For his doubts of Russia's military weakness Chamberlain could
claim professional support. The British and French General Staffs
were agreed that the Russian army was completely demoralized.
They regarded Poland as a more valuable ally than Russia. The
influence of these opinions, acceptable as they were to British
Ministers, was reinforced by Polish mistrust. The Poles, placed
between Russians and Germans, faced the peril of a new partition.
Even as protectors against the Nazis, the Russians would not be
suffered to pass over Polish territory. Who, in the light of their
unhappy fate, can now say that the Poles were wrong?
Time passed. The Government hesitated, seeking for some com-
promise that would bring in the Russians without offending the
Poles. At length it was agreed that a military mission should be
sent to Moscow, but the preliminary discussions delayed its de-
As late as July, Eden was protesting in the House at the con-
tinued and interminable delays. * 'These negotiations with Russia/'
he said, "are always being forecast either in London or in Paris as
just about to finish, but they never reach their end. Indeed I am
reminded of La Rochefoucauld's definition of love and ghosts
everybody is talking about it, but nobody has ever seen it. For my
part I wish that two months ago the Government had made up their
minds to send the most authoritative mission possible to Moscow
and that they had put at the head some political personality who
could negotiate with the remarkable man who is head of the
Russian Government today in everything except in name. If that
mission could have been accompanied by military, naval and air
advisers so much the better. Where doubts and suspicions have to
be allayed and everybody knows they exist personal contacts
can be more effective than the exchange of diplomatic notes, how-
ever skilfully drafted. There are times when an hour's talk may be
worth a month of writing.
' 'Even now the Government should enlarge this military mission
and make it a political mission as well. Why should we not arrange
it so that not only will our Generals talk to the Russian Generals,
but that there will also be someone who can talk to M. Stalin and
see if we cannot finish off the whole thing in a week?"
Even at that late date Eden's method might have succeeded.
Stalin was still not committed to the pact with Hitler. A team of
134 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
Generals, Admirals and Air Marshals, headed by a leading member
of the British Government, might have convinced him that Britain
was in earnest and a Triple Alliance might have been the result. As
a means of impressing Hitler an alliance would have had a per-
suasive influence that appeasement never possessed. It was never
tested. The Russians had invited Halifax to Moscow, but he did not
go. Instead an official was sent, whom they looked on as a Foreign
Office clerk. When a military commission arrived they expected to
see Gamelin and Gort. Instead there were officers whose credentials
did not appear to be adequate for the occasion. The Russian
Government considered themselves to be slighted. Ribbentrop
went to Moscow and the Soviet-German pact was concluded.
During that last summer of peace, Eden crossed the Channel to
meet old friends in Paris. He was able to give them, speaking with-
out official position, assurances of British support that he had not
been in a position to extend when he was in office. He was glad,
he was always glad, to be in Paris where, to a measure beyond all
cities that he knew, life was lived so agreeably, with a rare display
of courtesy and tolerance.
He attended Les Conferences des Ambassadeurs, presided over
by Paul Reynaud, and he delivered an address in French not the
Anglicised French into which Winston Churchill, on occasion, has
been known to lapse, but Parisian French of some elegance. He
spoke of the friendship between the two countries, friendship that
sprang from the heart and the head. "Le mariage de John Bull et de
Marianne est a la fois un mariage de coeur et un mariage de raison.
Et c'est pour cela qu'il ne saurait exister de liens plus forts, ni plus
stirs." He delighted his hearers with some quotations little known
in France from Pitt: "Ou finit la loi, commence la tyrannic";
from Queen Elizabeth (Tudor); "L'Angleterre n'a pas besoin d'im-
plorer la paix"; and his favourite lines from Lewis Carroll, of the
charity collectors: "Ils ramassent 1'argent des autres, mais eux ils
It was when he came to deal with the change in British outlook
that he was followed with the closest attention. With almost
country-wide unanimity the British people had accepted, it might
almost be said had demanded, a Peace Front to resist any act of
aggression. The entry of the Germans into Prague had produced
nothing less than a revolution in the outlook of the British people
APPEASEMENT ENDS IN WAR 135
on foreign affairs, a revolution of which it was impossible to
exaggerate the extent or the importance. "Elle a ete soudaine,
mais elle a ete totale, a tel point qu'il serait difficile de lui trouver
des precedents dans notre longue histoire. Maintenant nous sommes
unanimes. Nous sommes tous d'accord, a quelque parti que nous
appartenions et quelles qu'aient ete nos preventions du passe. Et
revenir en arriere est devenu impossible."
As evidence of the change of spirit he cited the decision in
favour of compulsory military service. By reversing their ages-old
tradition against conscription Britain had sought to give incon-
testable proof of her resolution. To underestimate British deter-
mination would be to commit one of the most tragic of errors on
the part of an aggressor who should launch out on "des aventures
de violence qui declencheraient la guerre generale".
The speech was well received. Eden was required to repeat it
before other hearers at a second meeting the following day.
As the month of July passed Hitler's propaganda machine
became more clamant, the preparations for war more patent. At
home, there were renewed demands for the inclusion of Churchill
and Eden in the Cabinet. It was pressed on Chamberlain from with-
out, it was urged upon him from within his Ministry. He was not
prepared to yield to the pressure of opinion.
"Watching the manceuvrings of the Nazis, Eden had no doubt
that Hitler was hoping to repeat in Poland the success he had
achieved in Czechoslovakia. The technique was precisely the same.
Would the British Government stand firmly behind their guarantee
to Poland? There were times when their resolution was questioned.
The House of Commons adjourned for the summer recess at
the beginning of August for a break of two months, the Prime
Minister, in ungracious terms, refusing to listen to appeals by
members of all parties to arrange for a meeting at the end of August
in view of the anxieties over Poland. Eden had devoted his leisure
to service with the territorial battalion of the Rangers (K.R.R.C.),
of which he was second-in-command. He went into camp at mid-
August but within a week he was summoned back to Westminster.
Two days previously Ribbentrop had signed the Non-Aggression
Pact with Russia. It was clearly the thunder heralding the Hitler
storm. Parliament was recalled to hurry through an Emergency
Powers Bill. Orders went out to place the country on a war footing.
I3<5 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
Eden noted that members reassembled in a mood not of noisy
demonstration, but of sober resolution. No longer was he perplexed
by anxieties over the future. The country was united. There was
no excitement or hysteria, but of quiet resolve. The British people
had made up their mind. The days of easy optimism and wishful
thinking were past. At long last the issue was clarified for all and
there was common agreement on what must be done, even
though war be involved and all that the catastrophe of war must
In a brief speech in the House, the last he was to make as a
back-bencher, he added his words to the warning the Prime
Minister had given to the Nazis. Let them not imagine that because
of the Moscow pact the British would not desert the Poles. It was
unthinkable. The leaders of the German people knew little of
Britain's history if they did not realize that the greater the odds
and the greater the difficulties to be faced, the stronger the British
grew in their determination to stand by those to whom they had
pledged their word.
He spoke of the danger that Hitler might resort to force in
Poland refusing to believe that Britain was in earnest. * 'There is
another danger/' he added, "and, not having the responsibility of
office, I do not see why I should not state it. It is possible that there
are at this moment many people in Germany who believe that in
the event of hostilities with Poland they may in a few short
weeks, or months, obtain their military objectives, and that, having
done that, they appear to believe that we should take no further
interest in the matter. If there are any who really think that, they
are making the greatest error in history.
"Step by step and stage by stage Hitler has planned the sub-
jugation of Poland. If that process is continued, and if we do not
join with others to resist it now, who can doubt that there will be
another victim next year? While it is fearful to have to contemplate
the use offeree, I am convinced that the attitude of a large and over-
whelming majority of the House endorses that determination as the
only means by which at this late hour we may save Poland and also
save our children from what some of us went through in the years
Some months ahead, when Poland, and France, too, had been
subjugated, it fell to Eden to reject the German peace overtures and
APPEASEMENT ENDS IN WAR 137
to reaffirm the declaration he made that day. Did Hitler remember
that he had been warned against his miscalculation?
At this final moment, Chamberlain sought to avert the calamity
of war by a personal letter to Hitler. He wrote to establish beyond
a peradventure that Great Britain would stand by the engagement to
Poland. It had been suggested that because of the conclusion of the
Russian-German Pact British intervention on behalf of Poland was
no longer a contingency to be reckoned with. "No greater mistake
could be made," the Prime Minister wrote. " Whatever may prove
to be the nature of the German-Soviet agreement, it cannot alter
Great Britain's obligation to Poland, which His Majesty's Govern-
ment have stated in public, repeatedly and plainly, and which they
are determined to fulfil."
The letter caused Hitler to pause. He accepted the letter as a
suggestion that Britain and France, as in the previous year, would
be prepared to negotiate a new surrender in the name of peace.
A letter from Daladier appealing to Hitler to make a peaceful
settlement was followed by Mussolini's intervention with a pro-
posal for a conference. Throughout the last days of August Halifax
strove for peace. Nevile Henderson, in Berlin, was kept busily en-
gaged in transmitting the Government's communications in one
direction and, in the other, Hitler's replies, backed by the bait of a
new offer, the old inducement dangled yet again, but this time in
On the soth of August, a few hours before the German guns
breached Poland's defences and Europe's peace, Eden broadcast a
short address to the people of the United States. With the issue
still in the balance his words had to be carefully chosen and reading
them fifteen years afterwards one cannot but be struck by the skill
with which he discharged his task of placing Britain's case before
the Americans. The issue before the British people was simply
stated. It was no mere question of the future of Danzig and the
Corridor, not just a new phase in the age-long conflict between
Teuton and Slav. Something bigger was at stake whether Europe
was to be ruled by threat of force, whether free peoples were to be
called upon one by one to stand and deliver, whether aggression
was at length to be checked and respect for international engage-
ments restored. The phrases were to become hackneyed with re-
petition but they were fresh enough then.
138 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
"The time for a patchwork compromise is passed. The world
has to choose between order and anarchy. For too long it has
staggered from crisis to crisis under constant threat of armed force;
we cannot live for ever at the pistol point. The love of the British
people for peace is as great as ever, but they are no less determined
that this time peace shall be based on the denial of force and a
respect for the pledged word."
It was, in a new and more menacing situation, a restatement of
his own case at the time he resigned from Chamberlain's Govern-
ment. Respect for the pledged word rather than condone Mus-
solini's breaches of his pledged word he had parted company with
Chamberlain. Now that Chamberlain had reached the limit of con-
donation with Hitler, Eden was about to rejoin his Government.
Chamberlain had once lamented that Eden had been the cause of
delay in his approaches to Italy. Did Eden, I wonder, ever give way
in his mind to the human weakness of reproaching Chamberlain
for his miscalculations in the cause of appeasement?
With the first day of September came the news of the German
invasion of Poland. The Cabinet sent an immediate ultimatum to
Germany. Chamberlain invited Churchill and Eden to join his
Ministry. Then events hung fire.
The hours of Saturday passed uncertainly for those outside the
Government. The French were persisting in delaying their declara-
tion of war. Last-minute parleys with Berlin were still proceeding.
Eden and Churchill were no better informed than others outside the
Cabinet as to the course of events. The House met that evening in
restless mood, "torn with suspicion", as Chamberlain noted, "ready
to believe the Government guilty of cowardice and treachery." He
felt himself under an obligation of secrecy to the French and his
brief, evasive statement left members bewildered.
Then occurred the famous incident as Arthur Greenwood rose
to speak from the Opposition benches. Amery shouted across at
him, "Speak for England." His robust words were cheered by the
"The feeling," says Duff Cooper, "was astonishing. Anthony
Eden was sitting between Amery and me. Many of those in front
of us urged him to speak. Indignation was by no means confined to
our group. At about ten-thirty I went round to Winston's flat.
He considered that he had been very ill-treated, as he had agreed the
APPEASEMENT ENDS IN WAR 139
night before to join the War Cabinet, but throughout the day he
had heard nothing from the Prime Minister. There were present at
his flat Anthony, Bob Boothby, Brendan Bracken and Duncan
Sandys. We were all in a state of suspended rage."
In the morning, tension and uncertainty ended with the Prime
Minister's broadcast. Britain was at war with Germany. There is a
final picture of Anthony Eden before he took up his duties at the
Dominions Office. Robert Boothby is the recorder of this glimpse
in history's mirror "On the Sunday morning, when war was
declared, the 'Eden group' met for the last time. I was invited to
attend. We listened in gloomy silence to the Prime Minister's sad
speech over the wireless, followed by the announcement that a
warbling note on the siren would warn the public of an impending
air raid. Anthony Eden then walked over to the window and
looked out with troubled eyes. I asked him what the matter was and
he said, *I am wondering whether there is anything more I could
have done to prevent this.' " Boothby reassured him. So to the
sound of the wailing of the first air-raid sirens, Eden made his way
down Whitehall to resume his career as Minister of the Crown.
RETURN TO OFFICE
"TJOR. the first seven months of the war Anthony Eden held the
X appointment in Neville Chamberlain's Government of Secre-
tary of State for the Dominions. He was not a member of the War
Cabinet, but had special access to it. When Winston Churchill
formed his famous Coalition Government, Eden was transferred to
the War Office (May u, 1940), where he served until his return to
the Foreign Office (December 23), seven months later.
The Dominions Office is a Foreign Office in miniature. The
Minister is Foreign Minister for the territories of the world that
are not foreign. While the Foreign Secretary deals with the re-
presentatives of states that may have no friendliness for Britain, his
neighbour at the Dominions Office is more fortunate. His business
is conducted within the imperial family.
Eden welcomed the opportunity to serve the Commonwealth
cause. For a second time within a generation the call went 'out and
for the second time the daughter states rallied to the motherland. At
his desk in Whitehall the Minister was brought the messages of
prompt response. Australia and New Zealand led the way. R. G.
Menzies for Australia sent the message: "There is unity in the
Empire ranks one King, one Flag, one cause." For New Zealand
Michael Savage testified: "With gratitude for the past, with con-
fidence for the future, we range ourselves without fear beside Britain.
Where she goes, we go; where she stands, we stand."
The Canadian answer was delayed for a few days until Parlia-
ment had reassembled at Ottawa to make a formal declaration of
war. In South Africa, the neutral Government of General Hertzog
was evicted, and, with General Smuts back at the helm, the Union
Within a week Eden could report that the line-up was complete.
The British peoples of the world were united against Hitler, more
closely knit one to another in common resolve than at any time in
their history. Not the Dominions alone, but India also was in the
fight. From the Colonies there were loyal offers of aid.
RETURN TO OFFICE 141
"For some of us," Eden said in a broadcast to the Empire, "the
challenge has come a second rime in our generation. There must be
no second mistake. Out of the welter of suffering to be endured we
must fashion a new world that is something better than a stale
reflection of the old, bled white. By Hitler's decision our new
civilization must be built through a new war. We would have
wished it otherwise. But our new civilization will be built just the
same, for some forces are bigger than men. In that new civilization
must be found liberty and opportunity and hope for all."
Before September was out, the unhappy Poles had been sub-
jugated. While they were resisting the Germans in the West, they
were assailed in the rear by the Russians. The new partition of
Poland was completed. Hitler's "last peace offer" to the Allies was
treated with contempt.
Eden twitted the Nazi propagandists with their miscalculation.
They had forecast that the flimsy structure of the Allies would fall
to pieces at the first critical hour and that the Empire would
crumble into ruin. The Nazi prophets had been confounded by the
event. They could not understand that in our greater freedom lay
Britain's greater strength.
In October a lesser Empire Conference was held in London,
Cabinet Ministers from each Dominion conferring with the
members of the British Government on the most effective means for
pooling resources for the common cause and co-ordinating the con-
tributions of their countries. It fell to Eden to broadcast a welcome.
He spoke on a subject that had occupied his thoughts for some
years past the example the British Empire afforded to the world of
an association of sovereign states, associated in peace, freely co-
operating in the service of common prosperity and a common
civilization. The discussions ended, he accompanied the visitors on
a tour in France of the British and French armies. It was the period
of the phony war and the troops were beginning the long winter
of their inertia and discontent.
It was Eden's privilege to welcome the first arrivals of fighting
forces from the Dominions. On a grey December morning at a
western port a number of ships of war came on in line ahead and
behind them giant liners came streaming in, their decks packed
with cheering troops. As they passed, a band on one of the war-
ships struck up "Oh, Canada", The first contingent of the Canadian
142 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
Active Service Force had safely arrived. Vincent Massey, the High
Commissioner, was there with the Minister to bid them welcome.
In February, Eden flew to the Middle East to greet more new-
comers from overseas Australians and New Zealanders in Egypt,
Indian troops in camp outside Cairo. One morning he watched a
fleet of transports come to anchor off Suez. The Anzacs were back
to the lands where they had first seen service in 1915. He went
aboard the leading ship with Wavell, Commander-in-Chief in the
Middle East, to greet the men in the King's name.
While the New Zealanders were disembarking later in the
morning, to entrain for Palestine, the Minister welcomed the
Australians newly arrived. He was filled with pride at the evidence
of the vast war effort of the Empire, swinging into its stride and
already gathering its momentum. He returned with encouraging
reports for audiences at home of what men of the Empire team
were accomplishing. He was moved by the spirit that brought them
rallying to the cause.
"What is it that has caused them to leave their homes, their
work, their factory or their farms in their tens of thousands to offer
man's proudest gift, his service as a volunteer? It is something
stronger than sentiment, deep as that sentiment is. It is something
stronger even than the ties of kinship, strong as those ties are. It
is because, as one of them put it himself, in the simplest but most
expressive terms; it seems there is a job of work to be done. These
men who came across thousands of miles of ocean had understood
the issue. It is their clear perception, the vision of the men from
beyond the seas who should give us courage now."
In a dozen speeches in those days Eden preached the gospel of
Imperialism. It had been outmoded in the years between the wars,
frowned upon by the pacifist-idealists. It had not been the theme
for Eden's praises when he laboured for the League and peace in
Europe. Now he called for the sweeping away of the cobwebs of
the placid ignorance that regarded British Imperialism as the dis-
reputable relic of a shady past. It was no such thing. It was a bridge
to the new age, a source of comradeship, an opportunity for service.
"Already," he proclaimed, "the British Empire has shown itself,
by its example of toleration and wise government, to be a civilizing
and humanizing influence over the whole world. It has been an
instrument for raising the standard of life among backward races.
RETURN TO OFFICE 143
It has been a great spiritual force, creating better feeling and
understanding between nations/*
The opening months of the war confirmed and extended
Eden's faith as an imperialist. He was still engaged in the pleasant
tasks of the Dominions Office when the call to sterner duties came.
In April the phony war ended. The Germans swept through
Denmark and Norway was invaded. The Battle of Norway was
lost and Neville Chamberlain's premiership was ended. As Hitler
launched his attack in the west, Winston Churchill took over the
leadership. The Socialists, who had declined to serve under Cham-
berlain, took office in the famous Coalition. To Eden fell the re-
sponsibilities of the War Office.
He had little time, as each day brought tidings of new disaster,
to settle down in his new post. He had scarcely crossed Whitehall
to enter his new department before Holland had fallen to the new
technique of parachute attack. His first appearance as War Minister
was in a broadcast appeal for volunteers for local defence. The War
Cabinet readily agreed to his suggestion for the formation of this
force, later, under Churchill's inspiration, to be called the Home
Guard. It is a sign of the pressure of those days and the expedition
with which business was transacted that the formation of this
auxiliary force of part-time soldiers passed through the stages of
suggestion, approval and action within three days.
By the time the Secretary for War had made the acquaintance
of his staff and his professional advisers the Battle of France had been
lost. Eden found that he had assumed departmental responsibility
for the Army when it was facing the most crushing defeat that ever
befell a British expeditionary force.
He had been no more than a fortnight in office when he learned
from Reynaud, then on a visit to London, that the possibility had
to be faced of France's withdrawal from the war. That evening
(May 26), with Churchill, he had to face the painful decision of
ordering the British garrison of Calais to fight on to the last. It was
a sacrifice, necessary to keep open the escape lines of Dunkirk, that
involved Eden's own regiment. Days of high tension followed
before the Deliverance of Dunkirk and the evacuation to England
of 300,000 allied troops. The Army was home, but its equipment
had been lost.
The Secretary for War directed the emergency re-creation of
144 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
the Army. A triumph in organization was achieved. Units were
reconstructed and, as far as equipment was available, re-armed. By
mid-June pretty well every man of the new divisions had been
furnished with a rifle, but there were few guns for the artillery or
tanks for the mechanized units. While this went forward the
defence of the island coastline had to be provided for, troops
directed to strategic points, possible landing-places fortified.
Volunteers pressed forward to join Eden's part-time volunteers, for
whom at first nothing but an armlet could be made available by
way of accoutrement. By mid-June half a million men had been
Italy had become a participating partner in the fighting. While
the issue was in the balance, Mussolini had hung back. The defeat
of the French armies raised the Duce's courage and he handed in his
declarations of war a few days ahead of the French surrender. It
was the final commentary on the policy of appeasement. In 1939,
when die Italians, in their discretion, had held back, Chamberlain
had still entertained the idea that it was the goodwill he had pro-
moted in Rome that had caused the Duce to hold his hand. In June
1940 the most cherished illusions had to be surrendered.
When the confusion and tension was at its height, Eden had
crossed to France with Churchill to take part in the final interviews
with Reynaud. It was his last visit to France until after the libera-
tion. The Germans were closing in on Paris and the Government,
retreating from the east, were then at Tours. There was a flurry of
excitement about the cross-Channel flight, for German 'planes
were now operating well to the west.
The Tours conferences were of unrelieved gloom. Reynaud,
supported by some of his Ministers, was resolute for fighting
on, even though they had to withdraw to their territories in Africa.
But the aged Petain had no stomach for the fight and Weygand,
now generalissimo, had already in his mind accepted the necessity
for capitulation. The English Ministers sought to counter French
pessimism. Churchill strove to fire Petain with some of his own
abundant resolution. It was in vain.
Eden made the acquaintance of the young General, de Gaulle,
with whom he was to have many discussions in the future. He was
then under-Secretary for Defence and Eden found him to have
the stoutest heart of any of the French Ministers. The visitors left
The American Secretary of State, John Foster
Dulles, takes leave at the door ofio Downing Street
The Foreign Secretary shares a joke at Geneva
with Chou En-Lai, Leader of Communist China
"But best of all no more jokes
about 'Long Engagements' and eternal Crown Princes"
A Cummings Cartoon from the "Daily Express"
RETURN TO OFFICE 145
with no illusions about the future. France had reached the limit of
A few days after the French capitulation Eden came to the
microphone to speak to the nation on the prospects of the future
and the assault that all considered to be imminent on the shores of
Britain. He was addressing a people who were soberly resolved to
face the hazards and perils of the future however grievous they
might be. They had heard the words of their indomitable leader
"We shall not flag or fail. We shall defend our island whatever
the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight in the
fields, and in the streets. We shall fight in the hills. We shall never
surrender." With magnificent presumption the British people were
ready to take on Hitler alone. There were even sighs of relief among
the foolhardy that at last, with the Frenchmen out of it, we could
run the war, our war, in our own fashion. Without echoing their
foolhardiness Winston shared their spirit our war now and his
It is against this background that Eden's broadcast speech must
be read. It was one that in its particular terms could scarcely have
been made to any other nation at such a time. It was devoid of
heroics. He used commonplace, casual phrases. He spoke not as a
leader in war spurring a gallant people to die in defence of their
land and their liberties, but rather as the chairman of a company
inviting his shareholders to take part in an enterprise slightly out of
the ordinary line of business. His opening sentence was a master-
piece of understatement.
"The time is approaching when the enemy, having overrun all
the outlying forts of liberty, will launch his assault on the main
citadel, our own land. He has already delivered bombing attacks
by night. No doubt these attacks will be continued. Possibly other
forms of attack will be attempted also. I am convinced that these
can be repulsed." In a description of what was to be expected from
the horrific Hun, these matter-of-fact phrases are in a class of their
own. There is a particular artistry in the choice of these qualifying
phrases "No doubt" and "Possibly".
The address continued in that quiet tone of its introduction.
What, when invasion came, were we to face? Just "a hard test", "a
great adventure". What was the advice for those about to be in-
vaded? It was simple. Each had his part to play; those not in the
146 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
Forces had already been told what to do. The great point for
civilians was that they should not get in the way.
This passage has a relish peculiarly its own. Everybody knew
what had happened in France the scenes of horror, the Panzers
driving all before them, irresistible: the poor civilians fleeing before
them, choking the roads in their masses, until the enemy tanks (so
the reports had stated) ran over them, steamroller fashion, crushing
flesh and bone into the metal of the roads. If any imaginative
listener thought that such incidents of horror could take place
in Britain the quiet voice on the wireless should have dispelled
With less emotion than a broadcaster at a holiday camp the
instruction from Eden came "May I underline one point in the
official advice you have received? That point is this: Stay where
you are; refugees on roads or railways hamstring those on whom
your defence depends." As to the dive-bombers and the night raiders
their bark was worse than their bite. The enemy deliberately
augmented the noise to increase the alarm. "He thinks we are a
people who can be frightened out of our wits by these theatrical
effects. We will show him that he is wrong."
The people might take courage from the thought that the
enemy would not be having it all his own way, but here there were
no predictions of destruction to encourage rosy hopes. We had a
powerful air force and this would give the invaders "a very bad
time". We had great numbers of aircraft and we were getting more
every day "and don't forget our guns, nor our balloon barrage
which caught a couple of raiders the other night".
Read fifteen years afterwards, the speech must appear as a
classic in anti-climax. At the time it was differently received. It was
successful in its purpose. It was attuned to the ears of a race who
give the best account of themselves not in a mood of heroics but
as they take things in their stride. The author of this speech knew
"Your character," he told them, "is the first reason for my
complete confidence. We know you will never flinch. We have
learned from the tragic fate of the French that civilization cannot
be preserved by material means alone. We have seen that ramparts
of concrete are not enough. It is only by the dedication of the
human spirit and the human will, the length and breadth of the land,
RETURN TO OFFICE 147
that victory will be won. Real and complete victory will be
achieved because the British people are inspired by burning faith
in their own high ideals and by a determination to set them up
again when, for the time being, those ideals have been beaten
The days of the summer went by and invasion was still delayed.
Hitler was posturing hi France, parading in victory before the
Parisians and the Arc de Triomphe. Here at home the makers of
munitions toiled as they had never done before. Despite prodigies
in production, output could not keep pace with demand. Eden had
to engage with fellow Ministers in a competition in priorities, in
which Beaverbrook, Minister for Aircraft Production, that poacher
from Fleet Street, was the star performer. Eden contrived to get his
share of allocations and was able to speed the Army's re-equipment.
By August he could report that units had been brought up to
strength, reissued with arms, and moved to their appointed positions
in the scheme of land defence. To the divisions of the British
Expeditionary Force many new divisions had been added. A new
army was being fashioned out of the half million men who since
May had been called to the colours. When the strength mounted
beyond the needs of defence at home, the diversion of forces to the
Near East could be contemplated. Churchill was not the leader to
sit waiting for the enemy blow to fall.
It has been Eden's experience never to be allowed to remain un-
disturbed for long to run his department from behind his desk in
Whitehall. Like the Prince over the water, he has for ever been on
his travels. Affairs in the Middle East led to his departure, in
October, on the first of his wartime missions to take counsel with
the men on the spot.
Since July he had been Chairman of the Committee of Ministers
set up to advise on the war in the Middle East. It was on his recom-
mendation it was decided to run the risk of reducing our slender
resources at home and to send out two tank battalions to supplement
WavelTs forces in North Africa. It was a courageous decision and
it had an important bearing on the course of the war. The Italians
were massing for an attack from Libya on Egypt.
North Africa was the zone in which our ground forces could
engage the enemy. Eden, with the backing of his committee,
favoured the immediate building up of the strongest army possible,
148 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
so as to be capable of going over to the offensive when circum-
stances permitted. Churchill was in full agreement and ready to
run the risks at home that would be entailed by sending abroad any
of the few fully equipped divisions. With many and complicated
problems arising at the Middle East Command, the Prime Minister
felt the need for ampler information and closer contact with the
Commanders than written communications could supply. So it
came about that Eden left by air to make a personal inspection
of the Middle East. Winston took over his duties at the War
From Gibraltar, Eden sent an encouraging report on the state
of the garrison. He pressed for the despatch of reinforcements to
Malta. He met the Desert Army commanders at Cairo and sent
back reports on their plans and requirements, in particular for
tanks. He arranged for a Turkish mission to join the Army, and he
made a date with General Smuts for a meeting at Khartoum. When
he spoke of returning home, Winston urged him not to hurry back,
emphasizing the valuable results that were attending his visit. Before
he did leave he was to engage the Generals in a discussion on the
possibility of taking the offensive to forestall the Italians. As the
Prime Minister concentrated his thoughts on the Eastern Mediter-
ranean he was impressed with the need to make Crete secure before
the Italians could step in, and with the need to aid the Greeks, now
attacked by the Italians.
Telegrams flowed freely out to Eden. The instructions from
London became an embarrassment when they came to conflict
with the projects of the Desert Command. Wavell was planning an
offensive on his own account, but he would not allow more than
obscure hints of his intentions to be conveyed to Whitehall by the
medium of the telegraph.
At last, on November 8, Eden was back in London. To a de-
lighted Prime Minister he unfolded Wavell's plan of operations.
In December the offensive was begun that ended in the rout of the
Italians under Graziani, the first British victory of the war.
The Middle East mission brought down the curtain on Eden's
term at the War Office. Halifax was to leave the Foreign Office
to go as Ambassador to Washington. American opinion, sensitive
and delicately poised, was steadily moving under Roosevelt's care-
ful leadership in sympathy with Britain. The handling of our
RETURN TO OFFICE 149
affairs at that stage demanded the highest qualities in our repre-
sentative-in-chie The choice of Halifax the only ambassador
ever to serve while retaining his membership of the British War
Cabinet testified alike to the importance attributed by the Govern-
ment to the appointment and to the high estimation in which
Halifax was held. For six years this High Churchman of vice-regal
bearing filled the post with distinction and success.
So it befell that Eden returned to his place at the Foreign
Office. He could not be less than gratified by the appointment, but
he had keen regrets at leaving the War Office. He had formed ties of
closest professional intimacy with the leaders of the Army. He had
found it easy to get on terms with them and he had won their
respect. He could speak their language, he brought almost a pro-
fessional understanding to their problems, and he had proved him-
self an able champion of the service. As an organizer he had
achieved distinction in his work in the re-creation of the Army after
FOREIGN OFFICE AGAIN
r TT < HE return of Anthony Eden to the Foreign Office in Decem-
JLber 1940 marked the opening of one of the most intimate
and harmonious associations in British politics. Through the chances
of the years, the changes of Ministries, the regrouping of states, the
re-orientations of policy, Eden was to serve as counsellor on
foreign affairs of Winston Churchill, fidus Achates to this pater
Aeneas. It was an association founded on personal liking, strengthened
by mutual respect, by the younger man's admiration for his leader
and by the older man's recognition of capable service, loyally, in-
deed devotedly, rendered.
The gulf of years that accentuated the differences between Eden
and Chamberlain was no impediment to a close understanding
between Churchill and Eden. Winston was a figure in public life
almost before Anthony had been breeched, and had become a
member of the Cabinet before the other went to Eton. By the
Thirties, time had begun to obliterate the gap of the years. The
young Minister who championed France and the cause of security
through the League spoke language that won Churchill's sym-
pathetic attention. His stand against Chamberlain and the excesses
of appeasement showed him to be a man of principle and courage.
As Prime Minister, Winston came to a new appreciation of
Eden's worth, his efficiency as administrator and organizer, his
skill in negotiation. There was a community of outlook between
them so that Winston could rely upon the other's judgment. Eden's
appraisement of men, of affairs and of a strategic situation was akin
to Churchill's own.
When the Foreign Office became vacant, on Halifax's appoint-
ment to Washington, the Prime Minister had no doubts about the
succession. By his experience and capacity Eden was marked out
for the post. Politically there were no objections. He was particu-
larly acceptable to the Socialist wing of the Coalition, and the old
criticisms of the right wing Tories had not survived the outbreak
of the war that had confirmed the soundness of Eden's judgment.
FOREIGN OFFICE AGAIN 15!
The Prime Minister brought his powerful influence to bear on
the Foreign Office, as he did on all departments of state. The
Foreign Office, in time of war, must lose its peace-rime independ-
ence. No longer can it function in glorious isolation, but by the
over-riding needs of defence must become merged in the national
team as partner, rather inferior in status, of the fighting services.
A generation earlier, Arthur Balfour had brought his philoso-
phical meditations to bear on the war-time role of the Foreign
Office. He concluded that among the most important political
considerations with a direct military value was the promotion of
co-operation with the Allies. "In the Seven Years War and the
Napoleonic Wars, this co-operation was far easier to manage," he
pronounced. * 'Things are different now and the result is an ampli-
fication of the problem which makes it quite impossible to treat
it as military and to leave it to the management of soldiers and
There was an occasion in 1918 that is amusing to recall, when
the War Office, in the name of the General Staff, presumed to offer
instructions to the Foreign Secretary on the proper management of
his affairs. The Minister, having barbed his quill, replied with
Balfourian brilliance. At the time the Germans, in their last offensive
of the First War, had broken out on the Marne. Balfour wrote:
"The General Staff has taken the advantage of the leisure provided
for them by the German offensive to circulate a paper telling the
Cabinet how the State Department in Washington and the Foreign
Office in London are mismanaging our relations with Mexico.
I am grateful to the General Staff for their assistance, but would
respectfully point out that their method of rendering it is not very
convenient. If one Office finds subject for comment or criticism on
the policy of another it should discuss it in private. ... I do not for
a moment suggest that the General Staff have no interest in Mexican
affairs, though they cannot themselves land a corporal's guard to
protect the oilfields. . . . Let them remember that while diplomatic
failures may hamper the army, military failures make the Foreign
Office helpless. But what then? Because the General Staff have not
been fortunate enough to oil the wheels of diplomacy with a few
dramatic victories, am I to ask members of my department to draw
up alternative plans of military operations for immediate con-
sideration by the Cabinet? ..."
152 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
Things were better conducted in the second war than in the
first. Contact with the Commanders in the field, and co-ordination
between the Allies, were recognized as important aspects of the
direction of operations. Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary
engaged in a succession of missions overseas. Eden had not long
taken over at the Foreign Office before he set out for Cairo to con-
tinue the work he had begun in the autumn as Secretary for War.
He became involved in the affairs of Greece that gave rise to one of
the most hotly controverted episodes of the war.
It was during his autumn visit to Cairo that aid for the Greeks
had first come up for consideration. By February it was an urgent
question. Through Foreign Office sources, Eden received warnings
that the Germans were planning to attack in the Balkans in March.
What course was Britain to take? We had pledged our support for
Greece. It was unlikely that the troops we were in a position to send
would be sufficient to hold the Germans. But were we to stand by
and do nothing?
Accompanied by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff (Sir
John Dill) Eden flew to Cairo. He began his discussions in the light
of the Prime Minister's direction that, desirable as it was to send
the Greeks assistance, it should not be done if the prospects were no
more hopeful than for another Norwegian fiasco. The three Com-
manders-in-Chief in Cairo were unanimously in favour of giving
Greece the fullest help: there was a fair chance, they considered, of
halting a German advance.
Eden crossed to Athens to meet the Greek King and his Foreign
Minister. Dill, Wavell and other officers went with him. There
were long discussions with the Greeks at which the possibilities
were closely considered. It was resolved that an endeavour should
be made to establish a Balkan front. The Prime Minister and the
War Cabinet endorsed the decision.
Eden sought to engage the help of the Turks and the Yugo-
slavs. On February 26 he arrived at Angora and met President
Inonu, the Foreign Minister Sarajoglu and the Turkish Chief of
Staff. From Moscow our Ambassador, Sir Stafford Cripps, arrived
by a Russian 'plane to join in the discussions. They were not fruit-
ful. The Turks would fight were they attacked. Otherwise they
proposed, as they indicated in deferential phrases, to stay out of the
fighting for which their forces were inadequately equipped. While
FOREIGN OFFICE AGAIN 153
the Angora meetings proceeded, our Ambassador to Belgrade was
sent with confidential messages to the Yugoslavs.
There followed some misgivings in London about the risk of
operations in the Balkans and at one stage the War Cabinet were
preparing to withdraw their approval. Protests from the Greeks,
combined with the views of Wavell and his Generals, endorsed by
Eden, turned the scale. The Greek enterprise was to go ahead,
Eden was on his way back to London when nationalist officers
in Belgrade rose against Prince Paul, the Regent, whom they sus-
pected of preparing to capitulate to the Nazis. The Regency Council
was dissolved in the name of the young King Peter. There were
anti-German demonstrations in the streets. Encouraged by these
events, Eden turned back for Athens to attempt to build up a com-
bined front of Yugoslavs, Greeks and Turks. Even the Russians were
prepared to demonstrate their goodwill to their fellow Slavs.
While these manoeuvres were in progress, Hitler ordered his
bombers to blast Belgrade. For three days the defenceless city was
bombed with systematic frightfulness. It was the curtain-raiser to
invasion of the Balkans. Invaded from several points, Yugoslavia
was forced to capitulate. The Greek flank was exposed. Allied
forces fought delaying actions, but the end was inevitable. Before
overwhelming German force, the Greeks surrendered. In a lesser
Dunkirk over 50,000 British troops were evacuated.
In the light of after events, the decision to embark on the
Greek operations was challenged by the critics. Churchill was
accused of having diverted forces insufficient to influence events
in Greece, that might have enabled Wavell to clinch his successes
in North Africa. Since it was on the advice of Wavell and his
staff that the operations were undertaken, the Prime Minister
could scarcely be faulted for acting against the wishes of the military
commander on the spot.
Eden gave the House of Commons a report on his mission in
his first major speech since his return to the Foreign Office. His
account was as full as discretion permitted of the discussions in
which he had been engaged. The outcome of the battles in Greece
had been bitterly disappointing, but on the credit side was the fact
that Hitler had been compelled to fight, to battle his way through
countries that he had hoped to gain without the firing of a shot.
"In this war," said Eden, "we are fighting not for gains but causes.
154 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
Greece is the embodiment of those causes. I believe that had we not
gone to her help we could not have raised our heads again."
The debate that followed was discursively critical of the Govern-
ment. The Prime Minister replied to the critics in one of his most
vigorous speeches, so that only three members registered their votes
against his 447 supporters. This was the last debate of consequence
in the old House of Commons that was destroyed by bombs a few
Back at his desk in Whitehall, Eden's thoughts flowed westward
across the Atlantic. No British Minister was inclined to under-
estimate the importance of retaining and developing the goodwill
and assistance of the United States. The turns and shifts of American
opinion were as carefully weighed in London as in Washington.
No move was made by the Foreign Office, no speech delivered by
the Minister, but the effects on the American mind had been care-
Eden had watched with admiration the skilful steps by which
the President had led his people forward to granting to Britain
all assistance short of war. The passing of the Lend-Lease Bill, that
act of "deep and farseeing statesmanship", was followed by the
establishment of American anti-U-boat patrols and the decreeing
of a state of national emergency. Short of active belligerency there
was little more that the United States could do in resistance to
Eden used the occasion of a Mansion House meeting to express
Britain's appreciation. The President, a few hours before, had
declared, "We do not accept and will not permit the Nazi shape of
things to come," words that Eden welcomed as the resolute expres-
sion of die fixed determination of the most powerful nation on
Eden looked forward to the conditions that would follow the
ending of the war. "We have declared," he said, "that social
security must be the first object of our policy after the war, and
social security will be our policy abroad no less than at home. It
will be our wish to work with others to prevent the starvation of the
post-armistice period, the currency disorders throughout Europe
and the wide fluctuations of employment, markets and prices that
were the cause of so much misery in the twenty years between the
two wars. Europe will end this war starved and bankrupt of all
FOREIGN OFFICE AGAIN 155
the foods and raw materials. Let no one suppose that we intend
to return to the chaos of the old world. To do so would bankrupt
us no less than others.
"When peace comes we shall make such relaxation of our
war-time financial arrangements as will permit the revival of
international trade on the widest possible basis. To organize the
transition to peaceful activities will need the collaboration of the
United States, of ourselves and of all free countries which have not
themselves suffered the ravages of war. We have no motive of
self-interest prompting us to the economic exploitation either of
Germany or of the rest of Europe. This is not what we want nor
what we could perform. The lasting settlement and internal peace
of the Continent as a whole is our only aim."
The speech was fully reported in the United States. Eden's
remarks were well received. They were the answer to the Isola-
tionists, who had been asserting that Britain's war aim was to
restore the Empire to its old place for the benefit of the financiers
At this time there were many American callers for the Foreign
Secretary to meet. There was the new Ambassador, J. G. Winant,
who was to prove himself a true friend of Britain, of whom Eden
said, "Humanity is the key to his life's work." There were long dis-
cussions with Harry Hopkins, then on his first visit to Britain as the
President's special envoy. Japan was one of the major subjects of
Japanese designs to take advantage of Britain's preoccupations
with Hitler were the source of anxiety. Eden had put on a bold
front before the Japanese Ambassador, to whom he gave a strongly
phrased warning that if attacked we should protect our interests
in the Far East. With our forces fully engaged against the
Germans, the means to back the words were not conspicuously
From Hopkins, Eden sought to obtain an indication of American
reaction in the event of Japanese aggression. He suggested that the
Japanese regarded the presence of the American fleet at Pearl
Harbour as a "routine matter" and suggested that the United
States should offer some unmistakable indication of their intentions
in the Far East. A positive line might have a deterrent effect upon
Japan. These views were faithfully reported to the President. The
156 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
catastrophe of Pearl Harbour a few months later put a period to
British speculation and anxieties.
Despite the pressure of the war, the Foreign Secretary found
the time to overhaul the machinery of the Foreign Service. Many
complaints had arisen from the weakness of our representation
abroad, which was held to have contributed to our diplomatic
reverses in the pre-war period. Sir Malcolm Robertson, M.P., a
former ambassador, had presided over an investigation into the
Diplomatic Service. The Minister announced (June n) the Govern-
ment's decision to carry out reforms on the basis of the Com-
First, the three branches were to be combined and one foreign
service formed from the Foreign Office, the Consular and the
Diplomatic branches. The highest posts would be open to all
members. Secondly, the system of entry would be revised so that
the field would be extended from which recruits were drawn.
Thirdly, financial reforms would enable men of ability to take up a
career from which, in the past, they would have been excluded
because they lacked private means. Men who had proved to be
unsuitable would be retired on pension. The former exdusiveness
was to be swept away. Efficiency was to be the keynote of the
No less important was the divorce of the Foreign Service from
the Home Civil Service. During his previous association with the
Foreign Office, Eden had experienced the effects of the old faulty
organization. Sir Warren Fisher, as head of the Civil Service, had
asserted his right to intervene in the conduct of the department.
He advanced the claim that all papers circulated by the Foreign
Secretary to the Cabinet must first be submitted for his approval.
He also claimed the authority to supervise any adjustments in the
organization of the department to meet the needs of the times. The
effect of Fisher's fettering influence was to handicap the working
of the machinery during the Thirties and to prevent vital infor-
mation from reaching the Cabinet. Leading figures in the Diplo-
matic Service attributed to these arrangements and their paralysing
consequences the blunders and miscalculations in British policy in
the decade before the war.
The old system was now ended. The Head of the Civil Service
was deprived of the authority to intervene. The independence of
FOREIGN OFFICE AGAIN 157
the Foreign Service was established. The Foreign Secretary was
made master in his own house.
At midsummer 1941 Hitler launched his attack in Eastern
Europe and thereby ended Britain's period of glorious isolation.
With no more delay than was needed for the preparation of his
speech, Winston Churchill announced Britain's acceptance of Russia
as an ally. It is to be noted that no Cabinet was needed, not so
much as an informal meeting of Ministers, for this historic decision.
Churchill was never in doubt as to the course to take. Any enemy
of Hiderism was his ally. Eden had long advocated an association
with the Russians. As reports had come in of German military pre-
parations in Eastern Europe, he had invited Maisky to see him at
the Foreign Office and placed the accumulating evidence before
him. Churchill had addressed a personal letter of warning to Stalin,
but the Russian Ministers, their diplomats and their generals had
been taken by surprise when the German attack was launched.
Eden was spending the week-end at Chequers. After a few
telephone conversations with Cabinet Ministers, Churchill de-
voted the day to the composition of the speech he broadcast that
evening to the listening world. Eden hurried back to the Foreign
Office to meet Maisky. Arrangements were quickly made for the
despatch of military and economic missions to Moscow, and for the
Russians to send a military mission to London. The efforts of the
two nations must be co-ordinated for the defeat of the common
Churchill's announcement of the acceptance of Russia as an
ally was heartily endorsed by the people, but informed opinion
was sceptical of the military value of the new ally. The Red Army
might or might not prove that it could fight and one commen-
tator expressed a general view when he made the questioning
comparison, "The Poles fought eighteen days can Stalin do better
It fell to Eden to commend the new ally to the House of Com-
mons in a speech much lower in its key than the Churchill broad-
cast. The House and the country, he said, would wish to take a
severely practical view of these matters. The attack on Russia was
to be regarded as a prelude to the resumption of Hitler's main
purpose to overthrow the British Empire.
"We keep our eye on the target/* Eden said, "that target is
158 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
Hitler's Germany. Let us pay him the compliment of under-
standing that he too keeps his eye on the target, and that target is the
British Empire, which he rightly regards as the chief obstacle in his
path of world dominion. The invasion of Russia is a means not an
end. Through his Russian attack Hitler hopes to break the military
power of that vast state and then free himself from any contemporary
or subsequent Eastern anxiety when he turns to his duel with our
own land." From these words it is to be deduced that the Foreign
Office and its chief founded no exaggerated hopes on the chances of
As to our relations with Russia, Eden recalled the joint state-
ment that had been made at the time he met Stalin in 1935. It had
then been deckred that there was no conflict of interest between
the two governments on any of the main issues of international
policy. "I have always," he added, " believed that those words
expressed a plain statement of fact and that the relations of our two
countries would gain from their mutual acceptance. The political
systems of our countries are antipathetic, our ways of life are widely
divergent, but this cannot and must not for a moment obscure the
realities of the political issue which confronts us to-day. This
country has probably fewer Communists than any nation in
Europe. We have always hated the creed. That is not the issue.
Russia has been wantonly and treacherously invaded. The Russians
to-day are fighting for their soil. They are fighting the man who
seeks to dominate the world. That also is our sole task."
From midsummer to the winter's snows the people of Britain
followed the course of the war in Eastern Europe with mounting
suspense and admiration. The Russians suffered reverses, destruction
of armies, and loss of territory and industrial resources that no other
state could have survived. In their hour of need the Russians were
offered every aid that could be made to them by Britain and by the
United States under the Lend-Lease Scheme. To the chagrin of
Churchill and his Ministers, aid was grudgingly received, and
demands for more were importunately pressed. An Anglo-American
supply mission travelled to Moscow and, backed by Beaverbrook's
exuberant friendliness, succeeded in melting something of Moscow's
coolness. But difficulties persisted. Stalin's importunities and com-
plaints persisted to the point where an indignant Prime Minister
declined to answer his letters.
FOREIGN OFFICE AGAIN 159
The Soviet Ambassador called at the Foreign Office to present
his master's explanations. Maisky expressed Stalin's wishes in con-
ciliatory terms. Eden reported to the Prime Minister that Stalin was
seeking a complete exchange of views for the co-ordination of
action, not merely in the conduct of the war, but in the post-war
organization of peace. It was agreed that a British mission should
proceed to Moscow. Eden, with his previous experience, was the
obvious choice as its head. Churchill put forward the proposal in a
telegram to the Kremlin. Stalin accepted with alacrity in a cordial
Between the arrangements and the visit, the prospects of the
war were dramatically changed. The Japanese struck at Pearl
Harbour, bringing the United States into the war. Churchill
immediately arranged to cross the Atlantic for a meeting with
Eden, by that time, was on his way to a Scottish port to board
a warship to take him to Russia. At iivergordon a telephone call
informed him of Churchill's imminent departure. His immediate
thought was to return at once to Whitehall it was not desirable
that both Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary should be absent
from the country. Churchill, however, pressed him to proceed.
The fact that the United States was a free belligerent and ally,
actively engaged in the war, would strengthen the hands of the
British mission in Moscow. Eden accordingly set out on one of
the most difficult missions of his career.
Leaving Scapa in mid-December, he sailed by the Northern
route to Murmansk in H.M.S. Kent. He was accompanied by the
Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff (General Nye) and by
Cadogan from the Foreign Office. It was an unpleasant journey.
Describing his experiences later he said: "We drove through
wintry seas and at one time we had tons of ice on board. I was
glad when we rounded the North Cape and were sailing along the
Murmansk coast. It was snowing hard in the dim half light of the
Arctic noon, where the sun never rises above the horizon in the
winter months, when we landed on Soviet soil. A detachment of
Russian soldiers was drawn up on the shore. They were a grand
type of man, dressed in their warm sheepskin coats, a much more
practical uniform than the ersatz clothing and the sweepings of
Goebbels' jumble sale in which Hitler's armies have to retreat
160 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
through the Russian snows. These Russian soldiers were flanked by
officers carrying the Union Jack and the Hammer and the Sickle.
The yellow ochre of the uniforms, the bright splashes of colour of
the two flags against the snow-covered hills, the uncanny twilight
at mid-day, the silence of falling snow, all these formed a most
impressive setting for our landing on Soviet soil. But it was
friendly. Indeed the courtesy and friendliness was typical of our
welcome at every stage of the journey.'*
Flying conditions were so bad that they had to complete the
journey by train. They came for the first time really to appreciate
the meaning of a.Russian winter. When the train made an occasional
stop they stepped outside into the sudden chill of 58 degrees of
frost. As they shivered in their great-coats, Eden thought of
Hitler's soldiery, exposed without protection to these Arctic con-
ditions, perishing as Napoleon's had perished before them.
The welcome to the Kremlin was cordial, but Eden was dis-
mayed by the proposals the Russians placed before him. They
would have involved the underwriting of the pbst-war frontiers of
Russia and the Soviet programme for post-war Europe. Stalin had
learned the Hitler technique. He was ready to sign an Anglo-Soviet
agreement, but this was made dependent on the fulfilment of the
preliminary condition of acceptance by Britain of Russia's future
frontiers, together with the absorption by Russia of the Baltic
States (Lithuania, Latvia and Esthonia) that had been subjugated at
the beginning of the war.
Three meetings were held with Stalin. The talks covered a
wide range. Military projects were discussed. Questions were put
by Stalin about the opening of a second front by Britain. Eden
raised the question of a declaration of war by the Soviet Union
against Japan. Always Stalin returned to the problem that for him
was fundamental the post-war territories of Europe. Eden de-
clined to commit himself. Before any commitments could be
entered upon, Britain would need to take the views of the
Dominions and of the United States.
Eden reported at length to the Prime Minister, then crossing
the Atlantic in the new battleship, the Duke of York. ChurchiU
replied praising the Foreign Secretary for the admirable discretion
he had shown in declining to be drawn into the making of wrong-
ful promises. There could be no question of Britain agreeing to any
FOREIGN OFFICE AGAIN l6l
arrangement about the Baltic States. It would be time enough to
start talking of frontiers when we had won the war.
Eden and members of his party were conducted to the fighting
front. They were impressed by evidence of the Russian spirit, and
of the confidence and resolution of the people. Hitler, by his sudden
attack, had conferred on the Russians a unity not previously
achieved under their own masters, in a crusade to rid their land of
the last German.
On the front, in the neighbourhood of Ulin, between Moscow
and Leningrad, the British visitors were on the scene of fighting
in which, in the last few days, the invaders had been driven back.
By the road were bodies of dead Germans and the wreckage of
tanks. Eden talked with some of the German prisoners, not much
more than boys, ill-clad, suffering from the bitter cold. Their over-
coats were of light material, their tunics thin, they had no gloves to
wear and they tried to pull down their cardigan sleeves to protect
their frozen fingers. The contrast between these wretched youths
and the Russian soldiery in their magnificent spirits was encourag-
ing. The visitors returned with a new feeling of confidence in their
Little progress was possible in Moscow towards the conclusion
of the formal Anglo-Soviet agreement. Eden explained that we
were not yet strong enough to launch a second front. Stalin did not
consider himself strong enough to be involved with Japan. The
obstacle of the frontier question remained. Nevertheless the meet-
ings ended in a friendly atmosphere.
On the voyage home Eden was accompanied by a delegation
of Russian trades union leaders. They had been invited to tour
Britain by the leaders of the Trades Union Congress and to see for
themselves the vast efforts of British workers in the munition
factories. Reporting to the House of Commons four days later,
he expressed the belief that the march of events was bringing the
nations together in closer association. "It is the task of statesman-
ship," he said, "to ensure that the future is a happy one for the
peoples of both countries, is a victorious one for the Allied war
effort, and is an enduring one for the peace of the world."
Back at his desk he prepared a full memorandum on the dis-
cussions. It is not without interest to recall the proposals Stalin
had submitted to him for post-war Europe. He suggested:
l62 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
The restoration of Austria as an independent State;
The detachment of the Rldneland from Prussia as an inde-
The transfer of East Prussia to Poland;
The return of the Sudetenland to a Czechoslovakia with pre-
The restoration of an independent Yugoskvia, enlarged by
certain territories from Italy;
The constitution of Albania as an independent State.
Eden's second visit to Moscow proved to be of greater value
than seemed likely at the time he was presenting a stubborn
negative to Stalin. Relations between the two governments im-
proved in cordiality thereafter and the talks paved the way to the
conclusion of a treaty of alliance. After his return, the Russians
made several attempts to obtain British endorsement for their
post-war plans. Churchill's opposition was worn down and he
would have given way, with reluctance, over the Baltic States,
but here Roosevelt and his advisers were not to be moved from
Eden had difficulty in producing the text of an agreement that
would satisfy the Kremlin. Two drafts were submitted, neither of
which was accepted. As a final step Stalin sent Molotov to London
to negotiate in person. He and his staff of diplomatic and military
advisers arrived by Russian bomber and, after appropriate greet-
ings, were taken to Chequers, which the Prime Minister placed
at their disposal. Seven meetings were held either at Number Ten
or at the Foreign Office. A friendly atmosphere prevailed, but
obstacles to an agreement remained.
When the deadlock seemed to be impenetrable, Eden sub-
mitted a fresh proposition. Instead of the military and territorial
agreement that had been under discussion he proposed a Treaty of
Alliance to operate for twenty years. There was no reference in it
to the controversial matter of frontiers and territories. It was sub-
mitted to Stalin and, after minor alterations, was accepted.
With appropriate ceremony the signing of the Alliance was
concluded at the Foreign Office on May 26. Eden's room was
flooded by the lights of cinematographs. He sat with Churchill
beside him with other members of the Government. Molotov was
flanked by his own delegation, Maisky and members of the Soviet
FOREIGN OFFICE AGAIN 163
Embassy staff. There were short speeches and toasts were drunk
in honour of the occasion. Stalin cabled his good wishes. Winston
In a brief speech Eden remarked that never before in the history
of two countries had so close an association existed. "Part of our
work," he added, "lies behind us, but the greater part is ahead.
There is the war to win, there is the peace to build. Upon the co-
operation of the Soviet Union, the United States of America and
the British Commonwealth the future of mankind will largely
The Foreign Secretary commended the Alliance to the House
of Commons. He emphasized the importance of the co-operation
of the Soviet Union with Great Britain when the fighting was over.
The two countries had agreed to work together for the organi-
zation of the security and the economic prosperity of Europe. In so
doing they had pledged themselves to take into account the interests
of the United Nations and to be guided by the two principles of
not seeking territorial aggrandisement for themselves, and of not
interfering in the internal affairs of other states.
As he grappled, in later years, with the problems in world
affairs that have arisen from the search after territorial aggrandise-
ment and from the interference in the affairs of other states, Eden
must sometimes have looked back with mild wonderment on the
terms of the treaty to which Russia put her signature in the summer
of 1942, during the midsummer of cordiality in Anglo-Soviet
FRANK TALKS WITH ROOSEVELT
E negotiations with the Russians and the exchanges with
JL Washington that followed gave a new direction to the work
of the Foreign Secretary. The tide of war had not yet begun to
turn in favour of the Allies. Many months of bitter fighting lay
ahead. But already some reckoning must be taken with the prob-
lems of the post-war world. What was being done in the midst
of war would determine the future when peace returned. The
extent to which we succeeded or failed in co-operating with the
Allies would be a decisive factor in post-war policy.
In the background of his mind, in these days, was the con-
viction that close association of the powers and the integration of
policy that had been brought about by the necessity of war must be
preserved after hostilities were ended for the establishment of a
new world order of peace. There would be no room for isolation,
no room for selfish policies or unneighbourly policies. There would
be one village street from Edinburgh to Chungking. Never again
could Britain follow a course of isolation. The British people must
be prepared to assume the burdens of leadership.
As he meditated on the blue-prints of the future, suggestions
came from Washington where officials of the State Department
were envisaging a world in which the main feature would be the
co-operation of four great powers Britain, Russia, the United
States of America and China. These four powers, when the war
was over, would have a virtual monopoly of armed strength. That
strength must be used in the name of the United Nations to pre-
vent a repetition of aggression, German aggression.
Eden agreed that the basic fact in the post-war world would
be the dominant position and authority of these four powers. He
drew up a memorandum for the War Cabinet on the Four-Power
Plan, in which the supreme direction of world affairs would have
come from a four-power council, and he elaborated the idea before
the House of Commons. "I do not visualize a world in which those
FRANK TALKS WITH ROOSEVELT 165
powers try to clamp down some form of big power dictatorship
over everybody else, but they must use their strength to prevent
aggression. Other powers, be they great, be they small, provided
they are willing to play their part well, must be secured in the
enjoyment of that independence for which they have fought and
There would be need for some new world organization to
ensure peace. From the experience of the past he drew the con-
clusion that the League of Nations had failed, not because its
machinery was faulty, but because it had lacked representation and
drive behind it.
The Foreign Secretary's conception of a four-power council
did not commend itself to the Prime Minister. He countered with
a memorandum that was short and shattering. Where Eden foresaw
a concert of the major powers, Churchill hoped for a Council of
Europe and he championed Europe, "parent continent of modern
nations' civilization". In speculation concerning the future, we
could not foresee what sort of a Russia and what Russian demands
we should have to face. The Chungking government of China
could scarcely rank as a world-power and there was the warning
that it would represent a "faggot vote on the side of the United
States in any attempt to liquidate the British Overseas Empire".
Of course, we should have to work with the Americans in many
ways, but our prime care was Europe. It would be a measureless
disaster were Russian barbarism to overlay the culture and in-
dependence of the ancient states of the Continent. His hope was
that the European family would act unitedly and that a United
States of Europe would arise. On this theme Winston became
eloquent and visionary. He ended with a curt dismissal of the future
and its problems "Unhappily the war has prior claims on your
attention and on mine."
No man bearing Churchill's burdens could detach himself from
the present to speculate about the hypothetical possibilities of peace.
But even in the midst of the storms of war, the Foreign Secretary
could not summarily dismiss the future from his reckoning. The
State Department at Washington had been agitated by the know-
ledge of Russian aspirations.
Early in 194.3 arrangements were made for Eden to visit Wash-
ington for consultation with the President and the Secretary
166 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
of State, Cordell Hull, who had been excluded from the Casablanca
conference a few weeks previously. The President had wanted to be
free from the influence of his Secretary of State. Since Hull could
scarcely be kept back in Washington were his opposite number
from Britain to be present in North Africa, the exclusion of Eden
was unavoidable. Churchill had pressed for his attendance, and
gave way to the President with reluctance.
In February, Winston proposed that Eden should cross the
Atlantic. Roosevelt replied with a cordial welcome: "That is an
excellent thought about Anthony Eden. Delighted to have him, the
sooner the better." At the kst moment his departure had to be
put off. The Prime Minister was taken seriously ill, pneumonia
developed and the Foreign Secretary could not leave London.
Thanks to the recently discovered benefits of M. & B. the "world's
worst patient", brow-beaten by King and President into obeying
doctor's orders, made an excellent recovery. In March, Eden was
able to leave for America.
Before his departure, Maisky called to see him to express
Russia's concern that no definite commitments should be entered
into during the Washington discussions. Eden assured him that the
conversations would be entirely exploratory. The ambassador also
raised the question of Churchill's plan for a United States of Europe,
remarking that the Soviet Government did not view this with
enthusiasm. Eden argued that the very smallness of some states
made federation all the more desirable, politically and militarily,
as well as economically. Maisky thought that his Government
would not oppose a Balkan federation if it excluded Roumania,
and a Scandinavian federation excluding Finland.
According to the preliminary exchanges, the scope of the
Washington discussions was to be limited to the most effective
method of "preparing for meetings between the Governments of
the United Nations to consider questions arising out of the war".
In fact he talked with the President, with rambling discursiveness, on
problems and possibilities of the post-war world. Where Winston
concentrated on the military strategy and the immediate operations
of the war, Roosevelt's mind played with ideas in preparation for
the Peace Conference that would decide the world's destinies when
the guns had ceased to fire. World statesmen assembled around the
peace-table was the expectation generally accepted on the basis of
FRANK TALKS WITH ROOSEVELT l6j
what had happened in 1918, and leaders amongst the statesmen
began to prepare for the occasion.
Eden arrived in Washington on March 12, and stayed until
March 30. He had a succession of meetings with the President, at
tea and dinner, and passed a week-end at the White House. On
some occasions the Secretary of State was present, but Roosevelt
saw to it that there was opportunity for informal exchanges over
the tea-cups or the dinner-table, when only Harry Hopkins was
there to listen.
All American sources are agreed that Eden scored a success in
the personal relationship he established with Roosevelt who, during
the first week, reported enthusiastically to Winston "Anthony has
spent three evenings with me. He is a grand fellow. We are talking
about everything from Ruthenia to the production of peanuts.
It is an interesting fact that we seem to agree on about 95 per cent
of all subjects not a bad average. He seems to think you will
manage rather well with the leadership of the House of Commons
but both of us are concerned over what you will do at the
Foreign Office! We fear that he will not recognize it when he gets
back." The good impression held to the close. Hopkins wrote that
the visit had been a great success "Everyone likes him and we
have made a thorough and frank exploration of everything
with which the United Nations are concerned/' The President
appreciated Eden's frankness and admired his wide knowledge
According to the American records of the talks, identity of
views between Foreign Secretary and President could scarcely have
maintained the 95 per cent unanimity. On China, for instance, there
were divergences. The President's conception of post-war arrange-
ments was based on the idea of the Four-Power Plan outlined
by Eden in his memorandum to the War Cabinet. He was con-
vinced that for many years to come the four Powers would have to
police the world. Eden, following Churchill's opposition, demurred
over China. The President spoke insistently on China's member-
ship of the United Nations. .
Eden left the impression with his hearers that Britain would
be "pretty sticky over their former possessions in the Far East".
The President suggested once or twice that as a gesture of "good-
will" Britain should give up Hong Kong. When he hinted at a
168 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
number of similar gestures Britain might make, Eden drily re-
marked that be had not heard the President make suggestions for
any similar gestures on the part of the United States.
At one point Eden raised the question of presidential powers
to carry out proposed commitments in the future. This was a re-
minder of the difficulties that, twenty years before, had been caused
by the repudiation by Congress of President Wilson's undertakings.
The problem was submitted to the constitutional experts who
advised that on the particular point involved the President held the
necessary authority. It is an indication of Eden's tact that he could
have raised so delicate an issue without giving offence.
Reading the opinions then expressed in the light of after know-
ledge, one is struck by the limitations of statesmen, even the most
experienced, in foreseeing the future course of events. Thus there
was the President pronouncing on Poland " After all, the big
powers will have to decide what Poland should have (in the way of
territory) and I do not intend to go to the Peace Conference and
bargain with Poland or the other small states; as far as Poland is
concerned the important thing is to set it up in a way that will help
to maintain the peace of the world."
While Churchill nourished his vision of a United States of
Europe, the President's ideas ran on a powerless Europe. Countries
like France and Poland should be disarmed, he considered. After
Germany had been disarmed, what was the reason for France to
have to have a big military establishment?
Eden foresaw that Russia would prove to be the most difficult
problem of the future. In detail some of his suggestions were to
prove wide of the mark. From Poland, he thought, Russia would
demand very little territory, possibly up to the Curzon line. He is
also recorded to have expressed the belief that Stalin wanted a second
front in Europe largely for political reasons that if Germany were
to collapse, Stalin had no desire to take the full responsibility for
what would happen in Germany or the rest of Europe. He believed,
a purely personal opinion, it was a fixed matter of Russian policy
' to have both British and United States troops heavily engaged in
Europe when the German collapse came.
The visit ended with a dinner at which Eden was Hull's guest
at the Carlton Hotel. Afterwards he sat up into the small hours
reviewing with Harry Hopkins the results of his trip. He felt that it
FRANK TALKS WITH ROOSEVELT 169
had been altogether worth while, particularly as it had given him the
opportunity of becoming well acquainted with the President and
with the Secretary of State. In the widely ranging conversations
there were few controversial points that had not been touched
In addition to the President and members of his entourage,
Eden was able to meet many prominent figures including ex-
President Hoover, Wendell Wilkie and La Guardia, New York's
mayor. He spent some days visiting American forces and was
impressed by the evidence of dauntless determination that he found
from Washington to the Deep South. He also took part in an
ancestral celebration in Maryland.
Both Winston and his Foreign Secretary found occasion during
the war to speak with becoming pride of the American element in
their ancestry. With an American mother, the Prime Minister, of
course, held the advantage. Eden's connection with America
sprang from his ancestor, Sir Robert Eden, the Governor of
Maryland, who had married Caroline Calvert, daughter of Lord
Accompanied by Halifax, Anthony Eden attended a meeting of
the Maryland Legislature at Annapolis. Standing beneath a picture
of his great-great-grandfather the Governor, he delivered a speech
that was relayed to all the State Legislatures of the United States
meeting in special session to listen to him.
"First let me say," he began, "that I feel at home here. From
my earliest years I have been steeped in the atmosphere of Maryland.
It is a keen personal pleasure to stand on the spot where Robert
Eden once stood. A few miles away, in the City Hall at Baltimore,
now hang the pictures of the Calvert family from which I am proud
to be descended. They are friendly faces which I recognize from my
childhood days when they looked down on me from the walls of
my father's house. I am even prouder of the fact that one of the
Calverts, the third Lord Baltimore, was the prime mover in the
great Act of 1649 by which the early settlers were assured of full
freedom to worship God according to their conscience. That was
nearly three hundred years ago, but our times have given a new
significance to that event."
Reviewing, thereafter, the contributions the American people
were making to the common cause, he referred to the inspiring
iyO SIR ANTHONY EDEN
sight offered in a scarred and blacked-out London of the youth of
the world united in the defence of freedom. "Your young men and
ours rub shoulders with each other and with the young men of the
nations united against a common enemy. They achieve in a short
space that natural sympathy and understanding which years of
diplomatic exchanges could never give. May they cherish in
friendship what they have learnt in war. Upon them and their
like, upon their friendship with one another rests both the burden
and the hope of mankind. Where our generation failed, I pray that
theirs may succeed. It may be our last chance. It may be in very
truth the 'last best hope of earth 9 ."
When the speech was ended, the House of Delegates of Mary-
land passed a resolution paying tribute to the virtues of America's
"valiant Britannic ally" and expressing to the British people,
through their Foreign Secretary, Maryland's desire to "emulate
their greatness". Maryland had indeed made honourable amends
to the Eden of the twentieth century for the unfortunate incidents
in which his forbear of the eighteenth century had been slighted.
From Washington, Eden went north to Ottawa where he was
given a reception that in warmth of welcome resembled that given
to the Prime Minister a few months previously. Eden also was in-
vited to address a joint session of the Canadian Parliament and he,
too, as a compliment to French-speaking Canadians, delivered
passages of his speech in the French language, declaring his faith in
France's future "Toute ma vie j'ai cru & la grandeur de la France;
ma foi dans son avenir est aujourdhui inebranlable."
THE CAUSE OF POLAND AND GREECE
IN the month of May 1943, in the absence of Sir Winston
Churchill, Anthony Eden addressed the Conservative Party
Conference (May 20). Three years before, in that month of May, he
had taken office hi the Coalition Government as Britain was about
to be left alone and unsupported to face the force of Hitler. The
prospect had been transformed. The Battles of the Desert had been
won. The last German had been rounded up in North Africa. In
the East, the tide had turned at Stalingrad and the Russians had
begun the long drive to the West that was to carry them to Berlin.
As he took his place at the conference of the party Eden had
cause for pride in the successes that had crowned the anxious labours
of the years that lay in the gloom of the past. It was a moment
when it was "proper to rejoice". He could, too, find reason for
satisfaction in his own personal fortunes.
His work had gained for him the confidence of his colleagues
and the appreciation of his leader. He was the Prime Minister's
closest colleague, the sharer of his most intimate secrets, his lieu-
tenant-in-chief and his successor designate. With becoming modesty
he might plead for sympathy in the arduous role of understudying
"a man who cannot be understudied". But his presence in that
role marked his position as political heir-at-law to the leader whom,
at his call, the delegates rose to cheer as the greatest Englishman of
Having surveyed the achievements and the unfolding of success
with which Providence had rewarded the efforts of the Allies, he
turned to the future and its difficulties with which, as Foreign
Secretary, he was intimately and perplexingly faced. He hinted at
problems of an immensity that almost daunted him, of a task to
be faced after the war more baffling and more complex than in
1918, The words were greeted with sympathetic murmurs of en-
couragement. For all the formality of the phrasing, there was some
sense of anxiety behind the words. Victories that mark the end of
172 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
military operations are the starting point for the kbours of the
statesman and the diplomat.
In the two years that lay ahead the Foreign Secretary was to
be arduously engaged in the campaigns for peace. One conference
succeeded another Quebec, Moscow, Teheran, Moscow, Yalta,
San Francisco. Weeks of preliminary spade-work, days and nights
of discussion and controversy, cases to be stated, replies answered,
claims advanced, counter-claims resisted in negotiation with amic-
able Americans and with obdurate Russians, masters in dialectics,
negative, unyielding, and frequently ungracious. Each state of Europe
presented its perplexities the affairs of Italy, the government of
Greece, the future of the Balkan States, the carve-up of Germany.
As a background there was the ever continuing burbling from the
rival voices of France, the plaints of the temperamental de Gaulle.
Looming over all was the persistent problem of Poknd. It is
beyond calculation how many man-hours were devoted by
Eden, Churchill and their advisers, by Roosevelt and Truman,
with their staffs to the future of the Poles. Here was the original
quarrel from which the war sprang. We had taken to arms in
defence of Poland. When all was done the Poles were seen to have
been saved from the Germans to be submerged by the Soviet. Not
all the arguments so persistently advanced by Eden and Churchill,
not all the submissions and the remonstrances and expostulations
had been of avail. Poland, immediate occasion of the war, was first
among the causes of the break between Russia and the democracies.
The good spirits that prevailed at the time of the Conservative
Party Conference in May continued at a high level throughout
the summer. Sicily was invaded. Mussolini fell from power. The
capitulation of Italy was at hand.
In August there were approaches from the Italians as Churchill
left for the Quebec Conference. Two days later Eden was informed
that an emissary from Badoglio was ready to negotiate. What was
to be done about this; were we to insist on unconditional surrender?
Messages passed between Whitehall and the Prime Minister, then
at sea, and the President. The Prime Minister's first terse comment
was "Don't miss the bus." Eden drew up a reply, demanding un-
conditional surrender in the terms of honourable capitulation.
There were further toings and froings before the agreement was
reached and Italy swopped horses in mid-war.
THE CAUSE OF POLAND AND GREECE 173
The Quebec Conference, that Eden attended in its final phase,
advanced the co-ordination of military plans between the British
and Americans to the point where Stalin must be brought in.
Throughout the autumn there were exchanges with Moscow and,
as a preliminary, a meeting between the three Foreign Ministers
was arranged. Cordell Hull gallantly undertook, despite his years,
to make the long trip to Moscow to join Eden and Molotov.
When the agenda was being drawn up the Americans put for-
ward four subjects for discussion and the British twelve. The
Russians named one topic alone measures to shorten the war.
Eden was quickly enlightened about Russian views. There was
one subject that aroused their interest and one alone the opening
of a second front in France.
Relations between the British and Russians, proceeding with
the alternations of a see-saw, had fallen to a low level at the time
of this Moscow meeting. The Russians had surpassed their own
record for unpleasantness. Churchill had refused to accept a par-
ticularly outrageous communication from the Kremlin. The trouble
had arisen over convoys carrying arms for the Russians by way of
the Northern route, operations of great hazard in Arctic waters.
This was the first tangle that Eden was required to straighten
out. On arrival at Moscow he had received a telegram of encourage-
ment and support from Winston "I feel so much for you in the
bleak conference and I wish I were with you." The Russians, how-
ever, conscious that they had blustered too boldly, were by then in
a conciliatory temper.
There was some plain speaking with Stalin. In the course of a
two-hours' interview he received extended instruction in naval
operations. The Russian, to use Churchill's phrase, is a land animal,
and imagination is stimulated by the picture of Stalin sitting listen-
ing to his interpreter repeating Eden's lesson about the tactics and
perils of the war at sea. Provision of naval escort for the convoys
was a great strain. Each convoy was a major operation. To provide
the necessary cruisers and destroyers British naval strength in the
Atlantic had, perforce, to be reduced. This exposed our shipping
to greater risks in the unceasing battle with the U-boat, a struggle
that was still a "closely run thing".
To drive his points home Eden produced a table on U-boats
operating in the Atlantic month by month over the period of the
174 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
war. The figure was still near the peak. Stalin examined it with
apparent interest. He listened with evidence of sympathy to the
explanations given to him, nodding from time to time in appre-
ciation of the points that were made. Finally, he replied that he
did not underestimate the difficulties of the convoy system. The
challenge he had made was against the supposition that under the
agreement that had been concluded the Russians had no claim to
expect the despatch of convoys. In the Russian view it was an
obligation, not an act of charity on the part of the British.
After two hours, misunderstandings were cleared away. Stalin
was assured that the British were not despatching supplies to him
out of favour or charity. He offered assurances that he had not
intended to cause hurt to the Prime Minister by impugning his
good faith. So the matter ended and the resumption of the convoys
was arranged. The December sailing was marked by a clash with
the battle-cruiser Scharnkorst which, in the twilight of the Arctic
winter, was engaged by the Duke vf York and sunk. It was a grati-
fying sequel to Stalin's course of naval instruction.
Two British merchant seamen confined to a Russian prison
owed their freedom to the Foreign Secretary's intervention on
their behalf. They had been given stiff sentences for assault on a
Russian Communist leader. Eden was shocked to learn of their
fate. It was utterly repugnant for him to think of allowing these
men to languish in a Russian gaol while accepting the hazards of
the war at sea on behalf of other British seamen in future convoys.
He made representations to Molotov who, as an indication of his
goodwill, arranged for the release of the two men.
The formal meetings of Foreign Secretaries and their attendant
staffs proceeded under Molotov's chairmanship. On few matters
were concrete results achieved but where agreement was not
possible understanding was reached. The Russians sought a de-
finitely pledged date for "Overland", the invasion of France. Eden
had to report the Prime Minister's objections to being tied by the
precise terms of a lawyer's agreement. The Russians wanted
Turkey and Sweden to be forced into the war as combatants. The
Prime Minister was aware of the advantages but was not prepared
to apply more than persuasion to Turk or Swede.
The Russians were but mildly interested in the side-shows.
"Overland" was their exclusive interest. They were "blindly set"
THE CAUSE OF POLAND AND GREECE 175
on the Allied invasion of Northern France. Eden was pressed for
an undertaking that the operation would not be delayed beyond
the early summer. His messages to London brought communi-
cations from the Prime Minister and from Eisenhower on the
strategic prospects on the Italian front. These served to increase
rather than allay Russian anxieties. Having suffered much from
Soviet importunities, Churchill, it may be, was not averse from
leaving Stalin in suspense, or so it might be concluded.
There was a final meeting with Stalin. Nothing could have
been more friendly. He discussed strategy in Italy. He appkuded
the idea for landings in the South of France at the time of the in-
vasion in the North. His understanding of naval operations ad-
vanced to an appreciation of the need for landing craft. But always
he returned to the essential point was "Overland" going to be
postponed and, if so, by one month or two months?
During their stay at Moscow, Eden had succeeded in penetrating
the reserve of the American Secretary of State. Cordell Hull came
to appreciate Eden's qualities. In his memoirs, he paid the
following tribute to the British Minister:
With Foreign Secretary Eden my relations were in general most
satisfactory. He possessed an agreeable personality and a high order of
intelligence. He was always on the alert when any matter pertaining to
Great Britain or peace was involved. In a few instances, as in the case of
de Gaulle, we had more opposition from him than from Mr. Churchill;
but we could usually count on his understanding, and at the Moscow
Conference I found him thoroughly co-operative and broad-minded.
I considered Eden a person of unusual promise in the political field,
barring the changes of fortune implicit in politics.
Reporting home on the results of his mission, Eden was able
to say that the conference that had begun with such bleak prospects
had ended surprisingly well. The Russians had given signs of their
intentions to open a new chapter in their relations with the Allies
of the West. To close the conference with a gesture of goodwill
he suggested that the Russians should be given a share in the lately
surrendered Italian fleet. To this the Prime Minister secured the
approval in principle of the War Cabinet.
One practical outcome of the discussions of the Foreign Min-
isters was the forming of a European Advisory Committee, with
Ij6 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
headquarters in London, to work on plans for dealing with Germany
when victory had been won. It was this Committee that first drew
up the scheme for the division of Germany into zones for Allied
occupation, a major source of trouble in the post-war Europe.
After a cordial leave-taking, Eden left for home by the southern
route through Teheran. On his flight the 'plane, at his request,
flew low over historic Stalingrad, city of imperishable fame, scene
of indescribable devastation. "Most of us," he said, in describing
the experience, "have seen devastated areas in our time, either in
this war or in the last. But none of us in that aeroplane had ever
seen destruction on such a scale. Every house must have been a
fortress, every street a battle-ground. There can have been no en-
counter more fierce in human history and few, if any, more evi-
dently costly in human life. You see for miles and miles mounds of
machinery twisted and flung about as though some great giant has
been engaged. Then I understood the passionate earnestness which
the Russians feel for an early conclusion of the war/'
In Cairo, Eden met Turkey's Foreign Minister. In his account
of the talks to the House of Commons he stated that views were
exchanged on the situation in the light of the Moscow Conference.
It sounded well enough, but in fact nothing had been achieved.
The Turks were told of the advantages that would accrue were
they to join in the war. They appreciated that advantages would
in fact result for the Allies, but seeing none for themselves they
politely declined to join in. They were not prepared to run what
risk there might be in allowing the Allies the use of air bases for
attacks on Germany.
Eden was not long in Whitehall before he had to take the air
again to fly Eastwards for the meeting of the Big Three in Teheran.
By the time he landed at Cairo, President and Prime Minister had
already got down to business on the affairs of the Far East with
Chiang Kai-Shek. Favourable impressions were formed of these
visitors from the Orient. Reporting, kter, to the House of Com-
mons the Foreign Secretary said: "By the luck of good weather I
arrived when the Prime Minister was entertaining the Generalissimo
and Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, the leader of indestructible China
and his most gifted wife. It was a most memorable experience when
the Prime Minister took his guests and Admiral Mountbatten
(Supreme Commander, South East Asia) to the map room, where
THE CAUSE OF POLAND AND GREECE 177
for hours we dived deep into war plans and projects. If I may strike
a personal note I would say that it is difficult not to be impressed
by the Generalissimo even at a first meeting. Under the outward
gentleness and gracefulness of this remarkable personality there is
a core of supple steel. His is a strength, you feel, that cannot be
broken. It can only be bent and then strike back with even greater
force. The Generalissimo and the Prime Minister readily under-
stood each other. They speak just the same language of determina-
tion. Through that meeting and many subsequent discussions and
meetings his wife was there to help us with her sagacious counsel,
her unrivalled experience of East and West, and her brilliant gifts
as an interpreter."
Allied plans for operations against the Japanese were outlined
by Mountbatten. It was because the Russians were not at war
with Japan that these discussions were held apart from the meeting
of the Big Three.
The Teheran meeting was a conference between principals.
They monopolized the stage. Their juniors, experts, and advisers
were the crowd forming the appropriate background for the
appearance of the leaders in person. Eden was the privileged witness
of a great occasion, observer at closest quarters of the interplay of
these varied and contrasting personalities the astute Roosevelt,
the subtle Stalin and the Old Incomparable who stood for Britain.
In the accounts that have been given of the proceedings there are
three incidents that stand out. There was the presentation by the
Prime Minister of King George's sword to honour Stalingrad and
the moment when Stalin kissed the scabbard in accepting the gift.
There was the embarrassing moment, at a Russian banquet, when
the Prime Minister walked from the table in momentary dudgeon,
having failed to see the joke in some heavy-handed badinage from
Stalin. And there was the dinner party that Winston gave on
his sixty-ninth birthday when he sat with the President of the
United States on his right hand and the master of Russia on his
left, a celebration that was no less memorable than those which
marked the day when Sir Winston was numbered with the
The Teheran talks were carried through with no dimming of
the radiance of goodwill exuded by all the parties. It was the high-
water-mark of cordiality in Anglo-Russian relations. The major
178 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
decision had been confirmed that the invasion of Northern France
should take place in the month of May.
Back in Cairo, the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary met
the President and Foreign Secretary of Turkey. The case for
Turkey's entry into the war was again pressed but with no
greater effect than had attended Eden's discussions a month
It fell to the Foreign Secretary to present an account to the
House of Commons of the Teheran Conference, the Prime Minister
being incapacitated by a further attack of pneumonia. Eden spoke
on a note of restrained confidence and optimism. On his return
from the Foreign Secretaries' conference he had expressed his
conviction that the foundations had been laid for collaboration
with the Soviet Union. Teheran began where the work of Moscow
left off. But the Teheran Conference, being a conference of leaders,
carried a still more stirring message to the world. The closest
military co-ordination had been reached. Every plan was agreed.
The timing was agreed. In due course the decisions of Teheran
would be unrolled on the fields of battle.
With the New Year of 1944 all thoughts and plans and hopes
were concentrated on D-Day and the greatest amphibious opera-
tion in the history of war. Considerations of moon and tide had
caused the date to be postponed to the first week in June. In May
the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth assembled in London.
Ministers of Empire have never held more harmonious meetings.
Eden won the general praise for his share in this happy result. Thus
the Prime Minister in the course of a House of Commons debate
observed ' 'Nothing was more remarkable than the complete
agreement that was expressed by every one of the Dominion Prime
Ministers on the general conduct of foreign affairs and on the
principles which govern that conduct and, I should add, on the
skill and consistency with which they have been treated by the
Eden himself was moved once more to reflect on the British
Commonwealth as constituting the one really successful experiment
in international co-operation ever made. What was the secret of
it, what was the unifying force behind it? It was strange, inde-
finable. The links holding the Commonwealth together sometimes
appeared to be so frail that they would snap at first pressure. The
THE CAUSE OF POLAND AND GREECE 179
demonstration of the reality of its strength had come twice in
a generation. For the motive force behind the deep loyalty of its
constituent peoples towards the Empire, all he could offer by way
of explanation was that like all the really deep forces that moved
mankind it had an element of mystery.
The hour of the supreme effort was now at hand. The armada
was massed for the assault on France. With the conclusion of all
the months of preparation the event rested with the fighting forces.
The statesmen gave place to the general. Not even Churchill
himself, denied by royal decree to take a grandstand view of
operations from a participating warship, could do more than join
Eisenhower at his headquarters in the woodlands near Portsmouth.
Eden and other Ministers were of the party.
During the hours of suspense, before the start of the most
famous Channel crossing since the arrival of conquering William
from Normandy, the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary were
required to deal with General de Gaulle in his most tempera-
mental aspect. For reasons of security he had not been informed
until the eve of the imminence of the expedition. He arrived by
'plane from North Africa. When told that France's liberation was
about to begin his resentment at being excluded from the secret
was barely held in check.
There followed a renewal of the claims that had been pressed
before on Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary over de Gaulle's
place in the administration of his country when freed from the
Germans. Disputes between de Gaulle and Giraud had been the
despair of Whitehall and Washington. The Ministers tried to
smooth his ruffled plumage. Eden reasoned with him, Churchill
spoke bluntly, Eisenhower added his courteous efforts. He was not
to be placated. Disdaining offers of hospitality he withdrew, stately
and aloof. It was disturbing but it provided the diversion of relief.
D-Day was a triumph for the planners and for the fighting
forces. During the days of stubborn fighting in the summer of 1944,
we were disturbed, at times, by the checks to the advance of the
Allied forces. Seen in retrospect the speed of success appears to
have been remarkable. By midsummer, the invaders were firmly
established; in July, the Battle of Normandy was won; in August,
Paris was freed from the invader. Eden took advantage of the
Parliamentary recess to make a tour of the battlefields. To the East
ISO SIR ANTHONY EDEN
the Russians had continued their relentless hammering back of the
The tide of military successes brought new and urgent problems
and in the autumn Premier and Foreign Secretary were again on
their way to Moscow to meet Stalin (October 9).
There were three main subjects for discussion the frontiers of
Poland, the future of the Balkans and the participation of Russia in
the war with Japan. Only over Poland were there difficulties. The
goodwill of Teheran still persisted. The British visitors were treated
as guests of honour. One house was put at the disposal of the Prime
Minister, and there was a second for the Foreign Secretary. There
were the banquetings inseparable from Russian hospitality and
a gala visit to the Opera.
Churchill has described how the affairs of the Balkans were
disposed of on a sheet of paper. Greece was to be the special concern
of Britain, Roumania and Bulgaria of Russia, with interest shared in
Yugoslavia and Hungary. As to Japan, Stalin was ready to join the
fight as soon as the Nazis had been disposed of.
On Poland the argument was long continued. What were the
frontiers to be? Eden and Molotov bandied place names on the
maps. Who was to form Poland's future government? Molotov
presented the Lublin Committee. Eden cross-questioned the
members. They answered as Soviet puppets and he formed the
"worst opinion" of them. There were the London Poles under
Mikolajczyk who were not readily acceptable to the Russians. This
further instalment of the Polish controversy was not permitted to
disturb the prevailing friendliness, but little progress was made.
The British Ministers left for home in good spirits and the
highest hopes for the continuance of the spirit of co-operation. If
differences could be discussed with such frankness there seemed to
be no problems that could not be solved. It was agreed that the Big
Three should meet again at no distant date.
Eden broke his homeward flight for a round of visits in the
Mediterranean area. First he met the Egyptian Prime Minister and
was given assurances of the continuance of Egypt's co-operation
under the Treaty of Alliance that he had negotiated in 1936. He
flew on to Athens to meet members of the Greek Government, who
had pressed him to come to judge for himself of the dire straits of
liberated Greece. He was appalled by the scenes of devastation. The
THE CAUSE OF POLAND AND GREECE l8l
Germans had applied themselves with systematic ruthlessness to
wreck the country. All communications, all bridges, all telegraphs
had been destroyed. All means of transport, lorries, even mules
had been removed. Harbours had been mined, machinery sabo-
taged in the factories, raw materials carried off or burned.
British shipping and British forces had begun to render first-aid.
By sea and air supplies were being hurried in from the stockpile
that had been built up for the emergency by the Mediterranean
Command. Eden was able to speed the work of relief by arranging
for the despatch of hundreds of lorries from the Near East and for
the provision of necessities that the emergency measures had not
provided for. There was great rejoicing in Athens at the arrival of
the first convoy bringing olive oil from the Peloponnese. The
humanitarian aspects of Greece's liberation overshadowed, for the
moment, the sinister political manoeuvrings that were to cause
Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary to undertake their sudden
journey to Athens a few weeks kter.
In November Eden crossed the Channel to take part in the
Armistice Day celebrations of the liberation of France. The cere-
monial was magnificently staged. De Gaulle and Churchill,
splendidly escorted, drove through cheering crowds to the Arc de
Triomphe to place wreaths on the tomb of France's Unknown
Warrior. For security reasons it was thought necessary to withhold
an announcement of Winston's presence, but the news of his
coming had become widely known and the multitudes had gathered
to pay their tribute to the man from whose voice on the radio they
had drawn encouragement to endure their four years of tribulation
under the Germans.
Eden was encouraged to think that friendship with France,
having survived the past stresses and strains, had emerged the more
deeply founded. He noted with relief that the storms that had
centred in the figure of de Gaulle had died down, and that the
General was accepted as the figure personifying the unity of the
After the festivities of the luncheon table, at which de Gaulle
acclaimed the services of the Prime Minister, there were political
discussions. The French, whose troops were once again in the
fighting line, had been admitted as members of the European
Advisory Commission beside Britain, America and Russia. There
182 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
were points to be agreed and Eden met Bidault, outstanding leader
of the resistance movement, now Foreign Minister of France.
Among the matters touched upon between them was the con-
clusion of a new treaty between Britain and France.
After the rejoicings in Paris there came the turmoil of Athens.
Liberation for the Greeks had begun with the melancholy disorders
of civil war. Communist guerillas tried to wrest power from the
provisional Government of Papandreov, who kcked the forces
to cope with them. The Communists seized the Athens police
stations and killed the police who resisted.
It was late in the evening when reports reached Whitehall that
the Communists were gaining control of Athens. Prime Minister
and Foreign Secretary sat into the early hours discussing the
situation. They agreed that British troops must intervene. At three
o'clock in the morning Churchill sent the order to General Scobie
to take necessary action to hold and dominate Athens. British troops
were to shoot if necessary.
It has long since been accepted that the prompt instructions
firom Churchill, backed by firm measures by the British Com-
mander and his men, prevented Greece from following the Com-
munist trail and being involved in the fate that was to overtake
Hungary and Czechoslovakia. At the time, events were viewed
differently. There was an outcry against Churchill for abetting
Greek reactionaries. The critics were supported by condemnatory
leaders in "The Times". The American Press joined in the clamour
and United States opinion grew hostile.
The Prime Minister faced his critics in the House of Commons,
justifying his action in one of his most vigorously phrased speeches,
defiant in tone, in which he made no attempt to placate his oppo-
nents. The debate was closed by Eden in a firm but more concili-
atory speech. He was able to dispose of his opponents by reason of
his easy mastery of his subject. He could identify the precise position
of each rival organization in the mosaic of the spHnter parties of
Greek politics. He could pronounce which was Socialist to the left
of British socialism, and which stood to the right of British liber-
alism without being Tory. So he took the House over the recent
course of Greek politics. The British purpose in Greece was first
to free the people and next to ensure that they could choose their
own form of government. The point on which we did insist was
THE CAUSE OF POLAND AND GREECE 183
that the choice should be made by the ballot box, not by the bomb.
Against our will we had been involved in Greece's civil war. When
it was over and arms had been laid down, then, he hoped, "once
again democracy will play its part in the land of its birth".
The Government could dispose convincingly of its critics, but
that did not bring peace to Greece. Fighting continued throughout
December. At Christmas the Prime Minister decided to make a
dramatic intervention. With Eden he cut short his Christmas cele-
brations and flew out to Athens. The final solution of the Greek
troubles was to be found not in the military but in the political field.
The Ministers, leaving behind them the fireside festivities,
landed on a well-guarded aerodrome. They passed along the streets
in escorted armoured cars. As a precaution, the Prime Minister
carried a revolver in his pocket. The Ministers went into conference
at the Greek Foreign Office, in a room bleak, ill-lit and cold.
The object was to induce the Greeks to cease fighting and to
find an amicable solution of their differences by democratic
methods, accepting for the time being an interim regime under a
regent. This would give them the opportunity to take a vote on
their future whether they would or would not restore their
former King, George the Second of the Hellenes.
For the role of Regent, Churchill had been advised to support
the Archbishop of the Orthodox Church, Damaskinos by name,
who was prepared to combine spiritual and political functions. He
came along to preside at the conference, a fine figure of a man, who
in his youth had been a champion wrestler. Whatever he might be
as a leader of the Church, Damaskinos impressed Churchill as a
man of shrewd judgment in politics. There were some stormy
discussions between the various Greek leaders, but in the end all
agreed to accept the Archbishop as Regent, the Communists alone
It remained to secure the consent of the King to stand aside while
his subjects decided whether he was to return to his throne. The
King agreed. By mid-January British forces were in control of
Attica and the Communists signed a truce.
Churchill's critics, encouraged by the echoes of American
clangour, continued their attacks. Again the Prime Minister faced
them in debate and again the Foreign Secretary wound up for the
Government. It was the old ground and the old arguments, but a
184 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
new Eden, an aspect of the man not often displayed. Rarely in his
ten years on the Front Bench had he spoken other than with the
voice of reason, breathing the sweet accent of conciliation. Now he
surprised the House by his aggressiveness and he showed that,
when he wished, he could mix it in debate, hitting out as forcibly
as the hardest hitters. He spoke to a running fire of interruptions
that in no way embarrassed him.
Seymour Cocks rose but the Minister waved him down. "I
have all the notes of the hon. gentleman's speech and I will answer
him as I go along." Sir Richard Acland stood up to intervene. He
was silenced. "I am going to answer the hon. Baronet's question
too. I cannot answer all at once, they come in turn." When Mr.
Davies from Merthyr interjected a "By whom", Eden replied:
"I am just going to say by whom. The hon. gent, is in a hurry and
wants to make my speech for me." Gallacher, the Communist
member, fared no better, nor did Aneurin Bevan "He asks us to be
objective in this matter I have never heard anyone import so much
prejudice into the subject of debate."
Summing up in a spirited peroration, Eden declared: "I have
had some experience in my life of international affairs and I have
never known an issue where I have been more absolutely certain we
are right. I am convinced if hon. members had seen what I saw in
Athens their reactions would be the same as mine. I am sure that
it was our action and only our action, unpopular and difficult as
it was, hard as it was to explain to our American friends I admit,
that prevented a massacre in Athens. That is my absolute con-
The Ministers were given an overwhelming majority, only
seven members going into the lobby against them. Long since
British and American opinion has come to accept the soundness of
their judgment and to praise them for an intervention that stopped
the iron curtain from enfolding Greece.
YALTA TO POTSDAM
E end of hostilities was moving near. The German push in
the Ardennes had been held. The Rhine had nearly been
reached. The Russians were rolling irresistibly on. Budapest had
fallen. The end of Hungary was imminent.
As the final collapse loomed close, the solution of the first
problems of peace grew pressing. They were never out of Eden's
thoughts: What was to be done about Germany? Who was to form
Poland's Government? What of Austria and the Balkans? And, the
new world organization, how were the rules to be drawn up?
By the time the guns ceased firing, these things needed to be
settled and he applied himself to their solution in time for the Yalta
Conference, that February, of the Big Three. He approached Yalta
as the second act of the piece that had opened at Teheran, a con-
tinuation of what had gone before. So, in some sense, it proved to
be. It was Teheran with a difference the same principals as before,
but not the same atmosphere.
Roosevelt, of course, was not the same. The man who had left
Teheran was now replaced by a frailer, older, undisguisedly failing
figure. The Old Incomparable from Britain was unchanged but
Stalin was not quite the host he had been before. There was a shade
less of cordiality in his manner and the Russians were several shades
less easy to negotiate with. So the Big Three took up the threads
and settled down to the last full conference of the war. There was
a finality about this conference. It was not merely the last con-
ference of the war, it was the last conference between allies working
in goodwill for a common purpose. Thereafter there would be
meetings in which differences would be more conspicuous than
community of purpose.
There is an ironic, almost pathetic quality about those kst days
of the war and the illusions about the future. President, Prime
Minister and Foreign Secretary still thought in terms of 1918, of
a conference of powers around the peace table arranging the
186 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
world's affairs, according to the principles of justice and the declara-
tions of the Atlantic Charter. Germany was still seen as the last
enemy to be destroyed, now and in perpetuity. Dwelling on old
perils they recked little enough of the new menace to the world's
peace, the old menace from the new source.
Throughout the Yalta Conference Eden and Churchill fought
the diplomatic battle of Poland. They championed the London
Poles against the Lublin puppets, they strove for an independent
Poland of ample territories, free to determine its future under its
democratically elected rulers. The Big Three discussed Poland at
seven out of the eight full sessions of the conference. Between the
sessions Eden and Molotov were engaged in the intricacies of
controversy over frontiers, the Curzon Line, the future of the
Corridor, of Vilna and of Lvov. Finally a joint declaration was
drawn up. This provided for the formation of a Polish Government
of National Unity and the holding of unfettered elections. Poland's
eastern frontier was to follow the Curzon Line and in the West
there were to be substantial grants of territory carved from
When the House of Commons was invited to give approval to
this Yalta declaration there were strongly expressed criticisms.
British Ministers were accused of having given way to Russian
pressure and with having failed the Poles. Why, it was asked, had
they not made an end of the Lublin Government. The speeches
were strangely divorced from the realities of things. Time was
quickly to show that Polish rights and wrongs were not to be
enforced by mere speech-making from the British Left against the
Russian occupiers of Poland.
Eden dealt patiently and fully with the points of criticism
ranging far and wide in history and territory over the involved and
controversial issues. In his closing passages he dealt with the position
of the Russians and their future intentions, in language that falls
strangely on our ears to-day:
"As I listened to some of the speeches I could not help feeling
that some of my hon. friends in talking about Poland had not only
Poland in mind but the fear that Russia, flushed with the magnificent
triumph of her armies, was also dreaming of European domination.
This is the constant theme of German propaganda. It is poured out
day and night and comes in all sorts of unexpected forms and
YALTA TO POTSDAM 187
guises. It was their theme before the war. It was then the Bolshevik
bogey, and how well Hitler used it. I have had plenty of it chucked
at me at interviews with Hitler.
"Can anyone doubt that that theme, before the war, was an
element in making it difficult for us to establish an understanding
with Soviet Russia? Can anyone doubt that if we had had, in 1939,
the unity between Russia and this country and the United States
that we cemented at Yalta there would not have been this present
war? I go further. Can anyone doubt that so long as we hold that
unity we can establish peace for twenty-five or fifty years? Unless
we hold it there will be no peace. While we must be watch-
ful, active and vigorous and do all in our power to secure the
real freedom and independence of our Polish allies, while that
is our right and duty, do not let us at the same time fall victims
too easily of suspicions of another ally. We have to be on our
Loyalty to the Russian allies could not have been more sincerely
demonstrated. But even while Eden was speaking there were indi-
cations of the difficulties the Russians were to create in the new
Europe. Early in March a Soviet-appointed government had been
set up in Roumania. It was the first pulling of the curtain across
Europe. Difficulties developed in carrying out the Yalta under-
takings concerning Poland. Was democracy for the Poles to be
nothing more than the Russian version of democracy? The Prime
Minister was alarmed. There were protests to Stalin. Neither in
the letter nor in the spirit was the Yalta agreement being honoured.
The clouding prospects were darkened by Russian suspicions over
the surrender of the Germans on the Anglo-American fronts.
Charges and expostulations were exchanged between London and
At this difficult moment, President Roosevelt, exhausted by
the labours of twelve years in his high office, collapsed suddenly
and died (April 12), at his cottage in Warm Springs, Georgia. It
was a grievous loss for the free peoples of the world. It deprived
Churchill of the wise understanding and the unfailing support that
had shared the burden of the Allied cause for long before Pearl
Harbour had brought Roosevelt and his country into the war.
Harry Truman was to prove himself a worthy successor, no less
staunch in freedom's cause, but he entered upon his responsibilities
188 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
with limited knowledge and experience of Allied affairs. As Vice-
President he had not had the advantage of co-operating with his
Chief in the close intimacy of association that had prevailed between
Eden and Churchill.
Eden, at the time, was on his way to San Francisco to attend
the conference that was to set up the new organization for world
peace. The Foreign Secretary paid his last tribute of respect at
Roosevelt's funeral. When his body arrived in Washington, it was
carried from the station to the White House through streets
lined by thousands of sorrowing citizens. In the afternoon, an
impressive funeral service was held in the great East Room of the
White House, and amongst the two hundred mourners assembled
there were the Governor-General of Canada, the Earl of Athlone,
the Crown Princess Martha of Norway, and the British Foreign
Secretary. The burial took place on the following day in the rose
garden of the President's home.
In Washington, Eden met the new President and found no
difficulty in getting on friendly terms. He reported to Winston that
Roosevelt's successor was honest and friendly, conscious of his new
responsibilities but not overwhelmed by them.
Truman was immediately initiated into the difficulties of the
Polish question. Molotov reached Washington at this time. Short
range and long range exchanges took place between the Foreign
Ministers in Washington and between the heads of states in
Washington, London and Moscow.
Eden was forced to anxious forebodings for the future. Con-
trary to the Yalta agreement the Russians were plainly intending
to set up men of their own choice as the Government of Poland.
Molotov insisted that pro-Soviet feeling must be fostered in
Poland. Eden found that representations about Yalta were un-
availing. Since the Russians were not prepared to co-operate, he
even questioned whether there was a basis of unity for the establish-
ment of the United Nations.
Leaving it to the heads of Governments to pursue the Polish
controversy the Foreign Ministers and their delegations proceeded
to San Francisco. Eden was accompanied by Clement Attlee,
Cranborne, Halifax and their advisers. The preliminary work on
the drafting of the Charter of the new organization had been begun
at Dumbarton Oaks and continued at Yalta. At San Francisco the
YALTA TO POTSDAM l8p
representatives of the Allied Nations were to give final form to the
framework of the new League.
Eden spoke to the conference of the new dangers with which
the progress of science had confronted mankind. The world had
contracted. We had entered an age when no natural barrier,
whether mountain or ocean, could guarantee security against the
new weapons science had evolved. " Whether one likes it or not we
are now one another's neighbours. San Francisco is as close to
Berlin or Tokyo as was New York to Washington a century ago.
The world is one large city and our countries are its several parishes.
Either we must find the way to order our relations with justice, or
we shall soon head for another world war. Our work here may
represent the world's last chance/'
While the United Nations delegates were settling down to their
task the last guns of the war were being fired in Europe. The day
the Conference opened American and Russian troops linked up
on the Elbe. Within a week Mussolini had been shot and Hitler
had anticipated the hangman. Two and a half million Germans
made their surrender to Montgomery. The unconditional surrender
of the enemy on the German and Italian fronts was completed.
During the final days of fighting, while the peoples of the world
were preparing to rejoice, Eden in America had been receiving
communications of mounting foreboding from the Prime Minister.
As the Russians had closed on Berlin, Churchill had been con-
cerned over the fate of Denmark. Eden shared his anxieties. Russian
occupation of Denmark would spread fear throughout Scandinavia.
Montgomery ought to forestall them by taking Liibeck. Could not
the Americans occupy Prague?
The next report to Eden was reassuring. Monty had won the
race to Liibeck by the margin of a few hours and Denmark was
spared the experience of a Russian deliverance.
Two days before the final capitulation, Eden received a sombre
picture of Europe's prospects. The Prime Minister had drawn up
the reckoning of the future. The Allied armies, under the terms
previously agreed, would be required to draw back, each to its own
zone of occupation. The Russians would extend their holding
a hundred miles, or more, to the West. There would pass under
Russian control Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Rou-
mania, Bulgaria and much of Austria. Vast zones of Europe would
190 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
become Soviet-controlled, police-governed. It was a prospect for
which Europe's history furnished no parallel
As the peoples of the world continued their carefree celebrations
of the fall of Nazism, Churchill's apprehensions mounted. Was the
elimination of Germany to become Russia's opportunity? Europe's
future was more pressing than the San Francisco Conference on
which he had "never been keen". He invited Eden to consider what
was going to happen when the American forces withdrew from
Europe and when our own men had been demobilized. These things
were more vital than amending the Charter of the United Nations.
Eden left San Francisco for Washington. He received reassuring
news about American troops: there would be no immediate with-
drawals from Germany. Eden took up with the Americans the
question of Allied withdrawals to the agreed zones; was this to be
carried out? There was some sympathy for Churchill's apprehen-
sions and some mistrust of Britain's intentions. Ancient suspicions
of Britain's imperialism were stronger, then, in the United States
than any notions about Communist designs. American interest was
concentrated on finishing off the Japanese, against whom Russian
support was urgently required. The atom bomb had still to be
perfected and the Americans had no wish to antagonize the Russians.
While these matters were in the balance, the situation was
complicated by developments on the political front. With the end
of the war in Europe, the break-up of the Coalition Government
could not long be deferred. The Socialists wished to part company
and take advantage of the tide of opinion running in their favour.
Churchill sought Eden's advice. Should the Coalition continue till
October, the limit set by the Socialists for their co-operation? Or
should the break be made forthwith and an election held in June?
Eden weighed the pros and cons in a memorandum in which
the issues were finely balanced: "I agree," he stated, "that a June
election would probably be better for our party than an October
one, though the Labour Party will no doubt blame us for ending
the Coalition, which the nation, I believe, would like to retain for
a while. But any advantage they might derive from this would be
lost as the campaign developed. . . . After carefully weighing
conflicting considerations I hold to the opinion I previously ex-
pressed that from the national point of view the balance of argument
is in favour of an election in June."
YALTA TO POTSDAM Ipl
Accordingly it was decided. The famous Coalition was dis-
solved. Comrades loyally associated in the partnership of war-time
became the strident rivals of the hustings. Churchill formed his
Caretaker Government. Eden continued at the Foreign Office.
He was in no condition to play more than a negligible part in
national or political affairs. A sick man when he returned to England
from America, he received doctor's orders to rest for six weeks.
He spent the period of the General Election in his bed, and Mrs.
Eden conducted the campaign on his behalf. The one speech he
made was a broadcast (June 27) a week before the poll.
Foreign affairs were Eden's main subject and he argued against
the proposition that a government of the Left was necessarily more
likely to establish good relations with the Russians. To choose our
own government to match the political government of another
country was to allow a foreign state to dictate our politics to us.
"We do a lot for foreign countries we might at least be allowed
to choose our own government for ourselves." If the argument
were sound, it would be reasonable for a government of the Right
to be returned so that good relations might be preserved with the
As to the advantages of free enterprise compared with state
control, he referred to his recent trip across the Atlantic to attend
the San Francisco Conference. The flight he had made across the
American continent had been a revelation to him. Never before
had he spanned the entire breadth of the United States. Only by
such a journey was it possible to obtain an impression of the size,
of the resources, of the wealth of what was the greatest industrial
country in the world.
"You cannot make that journey, you cannot spend any length
of time anywhere in the United States and escape the sense of
vitality, confidence, freedom and frank friendship which has
become the birthright of the American people, their remarkable
skill. The United States has transformed itself in four years from
a comparatively unarmed state, save for its navy, into the greatest
military arsenal and the most formidable power on earth. As you
contemplate this achievement and as you reflect that the greater
part of all development in the United States has taken place in less
than a hundred years, you ask yourself: how has it all been done?
The answer is by enterprise, by courage, by taking risks, by
192 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
competition certainly not by Socialism. No country believes
more firmly in free enterprise than the United States."
Polling was over, and the voters' papers were still in the ballot
boxes, when the Foreign Secretary emerged from the sick-room
and prepared to accompany the Prime Minister to the Potsdam
Conference with Stalin and Truman. Winston invited Clement
Atdee to accompany them. By then, the Allied armies had made
the fateful withdrawal to their previously assigned zones. The
Russians advanced into the heart of Western Europe. The iron
curtain, Churchill's own phrase for the sombre fact, descended.
The Potsdam Conference was the least fruitful in results of the
meetings of the heads of the three States. There was much dis-
cussion of the problems of the future, but few definite decisions
taken. Eden was again engaged on the interminable controversy on
Poland. Plans prepared by the Foreign Secretaries were produced
for the European peace treaties. Some reckoning was taken of what
would have to be decided and there matters rested.
The British Ministers broke off to return home and learn the
secret of the ballot boxes. Would Churchill and Eden return? The
general expectation was that Winston Churchill and his govern-
ment would have been accorded a small majority. Stalin, with the
information from Communist sources to guide him, forecast a
Churchill success by as many as eighty seats.
On July 25 the Conference was suspended. Eden and Churchill,
together with Clement Atdee, flew back to London. On July 26
the election results were declared. That same day Winston Churchill
surrendered the seals of office. The return flight to Potsdam was
made by Clement Attlee as Prime Minister. Ernest Bevin, Eden's
successor at the Foreign Office, accompanied him.
Winston Churchill's defeat at the polls in the hour of his
triumph as War Leader has evoked numerous explanations. His own
contribution to his downfall has been largely overlooked. The
electors had voted not against him, but against his party. His
personal position was never in doubt. Wherever he went his popu-
larity was attested by the crowds cheering "Old Winnie". The
voters had voted out the Tories for their failure to meet the Hitler
peril and the weightiest arraignment of Tory shortcomings were
the Churchill philippics of pre-war days. His speeches were remem-
bered against the Tories, where the greater shortcomings of the
With Lady Eden after his second marriage, August 14^, 1952.
Niece of Sir Winston Churchill, Clarissa Spencer Churchill was the
daughter of the late Major John Churchill
The new Prime Minister acknowledges the greeting of the crowd in
Downing Street after his audience with the Queen, at which he had been
appointed to succeed Sir Winston Churchill
YALTA TO POTSDAM 193
Socialists were overlooked. Winston had dug a pit for himself. He
had become the architect of his own downfall.
For the first time, Eden took his seat on the front opposition
bench in the new Parliament that was opened by King George VI
on August 15. On the previous day the Japanese, two of their cities
devastated by the first atom bombs of war, had announced their
capitulation. Bevin, as Foreign Secretary, opened a debate on
Foreign Affairs and Eden made his first speech to the House of
Commons as an opposition leader. It set the tone that he was to
maintain throughout the Socialist administration. The parties might
differ about nationalization and free enterprise, but on foreign
affairs they spoke with the same voice and much the same emphasis.
Bevin had given his predecessor the benefit of his support. There
had been no differences between them on any crucial issue. Now
Eden was to repay the debt.
"It seems to me," he said, "it is not our duty to emphasize the
divergencies that may exist on foreign policy but rather to state the
divergencies frankly so that we may try to reach agreement as a
result of the discussions so that Parliament may in these difficult
years function largely as a Council of State. The greater measure of
agreement there is between us at home, the greater will be the
authority of the Foreign Secretary abroad."
For Anthony Eden discharge from office had a consolation
denied to his fellows of the fallen Government. The Socialist
supplanters began a disturbance of the social fabric that involved
most of the departments of state. At the Foreign Office Eden
could mark his successor carrying on where he had left off. So
complete was the continuity that it is related "During a session
of the United Nations Assembly Ernest Bevin made an important
speech on British policy. An Englishwoman who had followed
foreign affairs closely, and who had contrasted the bulk of the
speaking minister, weighing at least 250 lb., with Eden's well-
known slender frame, sat in the public gallery with an American
friend. During the course of Bevin' s remarks she turned to her
companion and said, 'Anthony Eden is making a good speech but
seems to have got a little stouter'/* It is a convincing testimony
adduced by the former Secretary of State, James F. Byrnes, to the
continuity in British foreign policy.
SIX YEARS' BREAK
FROM 1945 to 1951 the Conservative Party were in a minority
in the House of Commons. Anthony Eden took his place for the
first time on the Opposition front bench as Winston Churchill's
lieutenant in leading the Conservative Opposition.
During this period it was Winston Churchill who set the lead
for Britain's foreign policy. It was he who gave first and vigorous
expression to the anxieties of the Free Nations confronted by the
Communist imperialism and the Soviet drive towards world
domination. The design to which Ernest Bevin devoted himself
at the Foreign Office, based on "acceptance of Soviet hostility to
the West as a major factor in world diplomacy", was the practical
application of Winston's warnings in his historic Fulton speech.
In the six years he was out of office, Anthony Eden broadened
the basis of his parliamentary and political experience. In the House
much of the day-to-day work of leading the opposition fell to him.
Churchill made his memorable contributions on the great occasions,
but he was notably absent from the tedium of debate. Eden ac-
quitted himself well in the difficult task of deputizing for an
absentee leader, notoriously individual and incalculable as a political
Domestic politics made a change for Eden that he welcomed.
He wanted, and his party wanted him, to build up a reputation, not
as a former Foreign Secretary but as a coming Prime Minister. He
spoke often in Parliament, and spoke well in debates on a wide
variety of topics. The nationalization of coal and electricity, the
economic situation, the shortages of food, fuel, houses and petrol,
trade union law, the powers of the House of Lords, the University
vote, Budgets, controls, even agriculture, education and civic
restaurants all were tackled in turn. In the country, he was the
Conservative speaker most in demand for the big rally, and he
made as good an impression in the theatre of a large industrial
city as he did at the rural fte. His platform reputation was built
SIX YEARS BREAK 195
The Conservative Party, in the first year or two after 1945, was
stunned by defeat, and bewildered as to the way to set about
restoring its fortunes. From Churchill no positive lead was forth-
coming. On the great issues of world affairs he was magnificent:
at Fulton he touched the heights, and his leadership of the move-
ment for European Unity was inspired. But on domestic issues he
seemed to have nothing to give his party except a negative and
unreasoning condemnation of everything the Socialists were doing.
In the party was a demand for a more positive approach, a demand
that exploded at Blackpool in 1946 in something as near a revolt
as a Conservative annual conference ever achieves. Eden saw the
danger, and it was at that conference that he proclaimed: "A
nation-wide property-owning democracy" as the Conservative
goal. He set out the case for a progressive, free society, as opposed
to the tenets of Socialism. That speech set the keynote for many
more in the years that foEowed, and his hold on the party grew as
evidence accumulated that his unexaggerated approach, his em-
phasis on the positive and constructive line, was making an impres-
sion on public opinion. The speeches were not masterpieces of
original thought, and they were not couched in language that lives;
but that did not matter. The resounding phrase could be left to
Churchill. To live and work under the shadow of a Churchill was
no easy experience. Eden had always realized that the best plan was
not to seem to be trying to compete.
Freed from the ties of the Foreign Office brief, it was noted that
he spoke with easy fluency, without so frequent use of the honoured
cliche and with an occasional touch of mild humour as he dealt with
his opponents. Thus, when one of the periodic attacks was pro-
ceeding against the House of Lords, he remarked that it reminded
him of a doggerel about murderers he had heard as a child:
They slit his throat from ear to ear
His brains they battered in,
His name was any goddam peer,
They swore they'd do him in.
There is little profit in recalling the party battles of days gone
by. All but the greatest parliamentary speeches are forgotten with
the Hansard that records them, Eden, throughout the years of
196 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
opposition, spoke as an opponent rather lacking in the zest of the
partisan, making his sane contributions to the discussion of matters
of national importance. On foreign affairs he faithfully carried out
his patriot's purpose of giving his support to Ernest Bevin.
In 1947 and again in 1949, collections of Eden's speeches on
various occasions and subjects were issued in book form. They
cannot be said to possess the timeless quality that belongs to classic
orations, but few of them have been made ridiculous by the course
of after events and how many of the day-to-day pronouncements
of the busily engaged statesman can pass that test?
In 1949 he escaped from the ties of "Westminster to make a
second tour of the Commonwealth and to re-visit many of the
places he had seen on his first trip round the Empire twenty-five
years before. Accompanied by his P.P.S., Allan Noble, he set out
for Canada, went south to New Zealand and Australia, and returned
by way of Makya, India and Pakistan. When he landed in England
again in March he had travelled 40,000 miles. The main impression
of his journey he summed up in three words "I found unity."
During his stay in New Zealand he was the guest of honour at
a reception at Auckland, a city named after a distinguished fore-
runner in the Eden line, as he recalled in his speech: "I hope you
will allow me to say that to arrive in Auckland gives me truly
a sense of coming home. I am very proud of my family's connection
with your beautiful and thriving city. As I have seen it to-day,
Auckland is indeed the queen of the sun-kissed bays. When George
Eden, Earl of Auckland, as First Lord of the Admiralty a century
ago, helped Governor Hobson in his expedition to this country,
he can hardly have imagined what a wonderful future he was
helping to open up. He can hardly have dreamt that so fair and
famous a city would one day bear his name. To re-quote to you the
famous Kipling lines that are so familiar to you and to me:
'Last, loneliest, loveliest, exquisite, apart
On us, on us, the unswerving season smiles
Who wonder *mid our fern why men depart
To seek the Happy Isles! "
Australia impressed him by the vastness of the territories, their
emptiness and the industrial progress that had been made since his
six YEARS' BREAK 197
previous visit. The twenty-five years had been a time of consoli-
dation. Australia had built herself into a nation with a sense of
unity, confidence and solidity that had not existed a generation
before. Goodwill towards Britain was probably greater than it had
ever been. In India, where he stayed with the Governor-General,
he had friendly talks with the Prime Minister and he also met the
Prime Minister of Pakistan. In Delhi he addressed Indian members
of Parliament. Through the Khyber Pass he travelled North to the
He returned with the gladdening discovery that the ties uniting
the nations of the British Common wealth were stronger than they had
been a quarter of a century ago. "The kinship," he said in a broad-
cast account of his journeyings, "seems more natural and accepted,
more a part of our lives at home and overseas. Perhaps it is that
which we have endured together that now holds us so close. The
year when we stood alone at war, we and the sister nations of the
Commonwealth, is a time as fresh in the mind of a citizen of
Wellington, or Brisbane, or Winnipeg, as it is for anyone in
He was fortified in health and spirit by his tour. He felt that in
a world so much at odds, with so much stress and strain and bad
temper, the British family had a message to give. Sometimes he was
encouraged to believe that from that family spirit there might grow
the sense of brotherhood, so that in time the Commonwealth might
merge into wider citizenship of a united world and enjoy a lasting
peace. It was the conception of a man of visions. There was little to
support his conception in the rough and tumble of affairs when he
returned to the Foreign Office in 1952 to take up the burden of
THE THIRD TERM
HpHE 1951 General Election that restored Winston Churchill to
Ipower by a narrow majority, brought Anthony Eden back to
the Foreign Office for his third term. There had been speculation
about the office he would hold. It was argued that as Prime Minister
designate he should not undertake the burden of foreign affairs,
but should seek freedom from the ties of running a department in
one of the non-departmental posts. By so doing he would have
been able to widen his political interests, give more attention to
domestic aSairs and generally prepare himself for the responsi-
bilities of the Premiership.
There was general regret in the party that he proposed to
resume his old place. During the early years of the ministry, pressure
was put on him to induce him to change his mind and his post. The
new Government made an uneasy beginning, and there were some
mutterings about ChurcliilTs conduct of affairs. There was im-
perfect liaison between Ministers and back-benchers. Conduct of
Parliamentary business creaked distressingly. The Administration
moved from one difficulty to another, with trouble over its de-
nationalization plans, over commercial television, over teachers'
pensions, old age pensions and M.P.s' pay. Dissentients urged that
Eden should be transferred to give oversight to home affairs and to
lead the House of Commons. He had acquitted himself well as
Leader of the House during the war when called in to pull things
together after the brief and unhappy experience of Sir Stafford
The change was seriously considered, but Eden himself was not
enamoured of it. He had, in 1951, been nominated as Leader of the
House, but he at once decided that it would be an impossible
burden to add to the Foreign Office. In resisting the idea of a transfer
to a non-departmental post he was politically wise. It would have
meant shouldering responsibility without full power. Absence
from the domestic scene kept alive the sentiment, * If only Anthony
were in charge." Meanwhile he took every opportunity of im-
THE THIRD TERM 199
pressing the stamp of his personality on the back-benchers at their
private meetings. Both on foreign and defence policy, and occa-
sionally on domestic issues too, he made speeches of considerable
persuasive force at these gatherings. Outstanding was his advocacy
of the 1954 Anglo-Egyptian Agreement, and the decision to with-
draw from the Suez Canal base, a policy which cut right across
every Conservative instinct. There were all the makings of a major
revolt here, and it was primarily due to Eden's work behind the
scenes that, in the event, the adverse vote was small and a party
split was avoided. Eden's stock rose when it was shown that public
opinion in the country was not disturbed by the line he had taken.
It was not the calculation of political advantage that determined
his choice. He returned to the Foreign Office and remained there
because world affairs were his special province. Here was the sphere
of his life's work, here he excelled, here he could bring to bear his
skill and experience. Here, in an uneasy, atom-menaced world, he
could render the greatest service to the state. His preference was
supported by his liking for all the attendant paraphernalia of the
Foreign Secretary's place the bustle of hops across the world, the
film and television cameras, the cheery wave of the hand to the litde
knots of people who watch the comings and goings at the con-
ferences, and the headlines in the world's Press. He would certainly
have been less than human had he not savoured with satisfaction
his own unique position at these international gatherings and his
prestige as the man who was a dominant figure at the old League of
Nations, and who had negotiated with the Germans before Hider
was taken seriously outside his own country. As a young man he
had watched Sir Austen Chamberlain dominate the conference table.
He, in his turn, had come to command an even more dominating
Pursuing the elusive phantoms of peace and security, he was
immediately on his travels again. During his first six months in
office he added another 10,000 miles to his tours.
Never in peace-time had a Foreign Secretary travelled so
frequendy and so far. Perhaps he was out of the country too much,
but attendance at international conferences yielded important
advantages. They made it much easier than it used to be to know
and understand the other characters on the international stage, and
to judge the climate of opinion among friends and allies.
200 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
He began his third term as Foreign Secretary on October 27,
1951. A week later he flew to Paris for the Assembly of the United
Nations to face for the first time the vituperation of the Russians.
The language of the Russians was so abusive that his speech before
the Assembly (November 12) deplored the "bitter vehemence" of
the polemics which had come to mark international gatherings. He
drew a wistful contrast with the present scene and the last General
Assembly he had attended, the inaugural meeting at San Francisco
in 1945. Since then the nations had become divided into two con-
fronting camps. Instead of being considered on their merits, the
disarmament proposals of the Western Powers had been incon-
tinently denounced by Vyshinsky, the leading Soviet spokesman,
whose cataract of abuse had not angered but saddened him as it
must have saddened and discouraged millions.
Back home from Paris, he told his constituents that the United
Nations, from being an arena where East and West could meet and
talk, had become a place where they met and shouted. "I think," he
added hopefully, "we have done something to improve this/' The
improvement was not apparent a year later. At the Assembly of
1952 he protested that Communist propaganda was surpassing
itself in blackening and abusing the free peoples. Were not Her
Majesty's Government and their associates frequently described as
After six years' absence from office, Prime Minister and Foreign
Secretary were concerned to make personal contact with the heads
of governments abroad. First they travelled to Paris (December 17,
1951) and met their opposite numbers, M. Pleven and M. Schu-
mann. They also visited N.A.T.O. headquarters to call on General
Eisenhower. In the discussions at the Hotel Matignon the French
were given assurances that the British Government would associate
themselves closely with the European Defence Community.
British forces would be linked with the E.D.C. to "stand together
in true comradeship".
Early in 1952, Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary travelled
by the Queen Mary across the Atlantic to resume discussions with
President Truman. Their previous joint conference had been at
Potsdam nearly seven years before. They opened their conversations
aboard the Presidential yacht Williamsburg and continued them at
the White House. There was a full scale conference attended by
THE THIRD TERM 2OI
civilian and military advisers, including the Chiefs of Staff. All
outstanding problems were surveyed from Korea to the Middle
East and foremost place was given to collaboration for peace. "We
share the hope and determination," said the communique, "that
war with all its modern weapons shall not again be visited on man-
kind. We are willing at any time to explore all reasonable means of
resolving the issues that now threaten the world's peace."
After the Conference ended, Eden remained at Washington for
detailed discussions on international affairs with Dean Acheson,
Secretary of State. He travelled to New York to receive the hon-
orary degree of Doctor of Laws from Columbia University
(January n). Wearing gown and mortar-board, he delivered the
Gabriel Silver Lecture. His speech, the first major pronouncement
he had made since resuming office, was a declaration of his aims,
and an affirmation of his hopes. He brought the lessons of the past
to bear upon the problems of the future.
In twenty-five years he had been concerned in the search for
peace. After the First World War they had sought to establish peace
through the League of Nations. He remained a believer in the
principles of the League. "We must," he declared, "dare once more
and do better. The human crisis to-day is not primarily a material
one. It is a crisis of the mind and spirit. Our mastery over nature
and our control of physical power have so far outstripped our self-
control that we have become very dangerous animals. Some may fear
that events are sweeping mankind towards unknown and catastro-
phic ends. They doubt their ability to control or direct their destiny.
"This sense of political fatalism is a symptom of the power from
which the world is suffering. It opens the door to the forces that
prey on the moral weakness of men and reduce the individual to
servitude. Traditional beliefs, long held loyalties, and the ties of
race, history and interest these are natural forces that bind men
together. But in the modern world many of them have been
loosened by the upheavals of war and the strains of economic
changes. Some of them have been discarded altogether, and in their
place are new voices, new ventures, new ideas. It is a formidable
task to blend these voices together in some sensible harmony. Yet
that is what we have to do. For the enemy stands at the gate ready
to take advantage of our discords, playing upon the lonely and
isolated minds of men and attempting by every means to herd them
202 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
together in droves where independent thought can have no play.
If we can understand the nature of the crisis we have to face we shall
be less afraid of it and able to deal with it. The contest is between the
generous faith of western civilization and the bitter doctrine of
Communism, once it seized upon a country, destroyed the mind
of the people and turned them into "truckloads of unanimous and
anonymous robots". The Communist assault on free and demo-
cratic thought was more formidable than its Fascist counterpart
Eden found cause for the conviction that the risks of world war
were not greater than they had been a year or two previously. "In
fact, I believe the reverse. I believe that the Russian Communist
empire shares with other states and nations the desire for survival.
I do not believe that the Soviet leaders are eager -to face the utter
chaos and destruction which would result from a full-scale conflict
with the West. They are on the whole careful and calculating in the
risks they take. It is part of their dogma that the home of the
revolution must not be needlessly endangered. . . . We have
grounds to expect that so long as our own position is clear, and so
long as we are plainly capable of punishing aggression, there will be
no major war."
Back at his desk in Whitehall, the Foreign Secretary formulated
his plans for solving the outstanding problems. On disarmament he
proposed that all armed forces and all weapons of all nations should
be "disclosed and verified" category by category, starting with
armaments of the simpler sort and ending with the more important
and secret kinds. First the nations should put their cards on the
table, revealing what weapons they had. Then agreement should be
sought on "certain definite criteria for the limitation of armaments".
Against this scheme the Russians brought forward a blanket
proposal. Every nation, they argued, should scrap atomic bombs
and automatic weapons. Then all other weapons should be reduced
by an equal percentage all round. To this Eden stated the obvious
objection. "If the Soviet proposals were accepted as they stand,"
he said in the House of Commons, "there would be an over-
whelming superiority with the Power which to-day possesses the
greatest strength of conventional weapons. And everybody knows
which that Power is."
THE THIRD TERM 2O3
Other projects and problems were less difficult of solution. One
was Persia. "With no adequate market for the oil products of the
factories they had confiscated from Britain, the Persian Government
were beginning to put out feelers. Another problem was Egypt,
where a tacit policy of mob murder and guerilla warfare was
maintained against the British.
A third problem, and the gravest, was the fighting in Korea.
Armistice negotiations at Panmunjon were still taking their pro-
tracted course. Eden pressed for an agreement on the liberation of
prisoners-of-war. The Soviets and the Chinese argued that when
the fighting ended all North Korean soldiers imprisoned in South
Korean camps should be shipped back to North Korea. It was
notorious that vast numbers of North Korean prisoners had been
unwilling conscripts, who feared their fate under the North Korean
totalitarian regime. "A cease-fire in Korea," said Eden, "would
hardly be worth while if we are to sacrifice principles sacred to all
fair-minded men. How should we look if we paid with the spectacle
of 100,000 men driven into Communist hands by the bayonets of
the United Nations, with thousands committing suicide on the
way? It is unthinkable!"
It has been Eden's method, when solution of a major problem
has not been forthcoming, to try to break it down into minor ones
and reach a settlement by instalments. It was in this fashion that he
tackled the Korean deadlock. Since the Communists would not
agree to a wholesale exchange of prisoners, why should they not
agree to an interim exchange of the sick and wounded? This sug-
gestion, conceived and canvassed by the Foreign Secretary, was
endorsed by the American, Commonwealth and other govern-
ments and was officially placed before the Communist spokesmen
at Panmunjon by General Clark, U.N. Commander. Some weeks
later (March 1953) acceptance of the suggestion was broadcast by
Peking. The interchange of sick and wounded men which followed
broke the deadlock and led to the armistice agreement of July 1953,
which repudiated forcible repatriation and vindicated the views
Eden expressed in his Guildhall speech.
The organization of Europe's defence and the associated pro-
blem of the position of Germany were the subject of continuing
discussions. The plan was that six contracting Powers Western
Germany and five of her former enemies, France, Italy, Belgium,
204 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
Holland and Luxembourg should contribute regular units to an
exclusively defensive army, wearing the same uniform, and sharing
the same budget. The ultimate strength of E.D.C. was put at forty-
three divisions of 13,000 combat troops each. They were to be a
"supra-national" force, under the supreme command of the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Britain's support was pledged to the E.D.C., but when it was
suggested that we should join a European Federation Eden firmly
declined. We knew in our bones, he said, that Britain's story and
her interests lay far beyond the continent of Europe. "Our thoughts
roam across the seas to the many communities in which our people
play their part in every corner of the world. This is our life. Without
it we should be no more than some millions of people living on an
island off the coast of Europe. But does this mean we are turning
our backs on Europe? Certainly not. . . . We have the largest
armoured force on the continent of Europe of any of the Atlantic
Powers. And we have undertaken to keep it there, as well as our
other forces, as long as they are required in the interests of North
Atlantic defence. Is that abandoning Europe?"
Far from being reduced, Britain's commitments on the Euro-
pean mainland grew. In mid-April 1952 came the first announce-
ments of the guarantee of British military aid to the six Powers of
E.D.C. should any one of them be attacked. Among the six to
whom protection was thus provided was Western Germany, still
an enemy nation technically, but soon to be re-admitted to the
European fold. This was largely the result of Eden's tireless comings
and goings between Dr. Adenauer, the West German Chancellor,
and M. Schumann, the French Foreign Minister, who was saddled
with the difficult job of persuading his fellow Frenchmen that
Germans could be trusted with guns in their hands.
On May 26, 1952, Western Germany came into her own, when
Britain (represented by the Foreign Secretary), America and France
signed agreements that gave Western Germany almost complete
independence and included her on a basis of equality in the Euro-
pean Defence Community. "We sincerely hope," said Eden, "that
this will mean the end of Franco-German conflicts which have
deeply shadowed the peace of Europe in the last hundred years."
In Berlin's Tiergarten, where he planted three German larch
trees and three camellia bushes the latter a gift from Queen
THE THIRD TERM 2O5
Elizabeth he was cheered by thousands of onlookers. Berlin he
talked of as "the front line in a war of nerves" waged by a Power
which preferred intrigue and disruption to the way of friendly
During the parliamentary recess that August, Anthony Eden
was joined by family ties with Sir Winston by marriage to his niece
Clarissa Churchill. A generation ago, divorce, even for the innocent
party, could mean the finish of a political career. Since then, more
enlightened opinion has declined to permit the country to be
deprived of a man's services on this account.
The occasion was not allowed to pass without protests. The
"Church Times" devoted an editorial to a homily on the re-
marriage of divorced persons. "Mr. Eden's private life," it said, "is
as much his own affair as any other man's. But high public position
is bound to lend a special significance to private occasions. A
generation ago the Foreign Secretary (who is more than likely one
day to be the Prime Minister) would have felt compelled to choose
between his public career and such a marriage. It is, after all, only
sixteen years since the reigning monarch was forced to make an
unhappy choice of a similar character between his marriage and
his throne. Mr. Eden's action this week shows how far the climate
of public opinion in this matter has changed for the worse."
Comment and correspondence followed in the daily Press.
A preponderance of letter-writers favoured re-marriage after
"Within a few days of his divorce, in 1950, Eden had attended a
meeting of 6,000 Conservative women at the Albert Hall. They
gave him a cordial reception. They cheered to the echo when
Winston spoke of him as the man to whom he would in due course
hand over the torch. Acceptance of the second marriage was made
the easier by the fact that his bride was the niece of Sir Winston
and Lady Churchill.
Clarissa Spencer Churchill, now Lady Eden, is the daughter of
the late Major John Spencer Churchill and of Lady Gwendoline
Bertie, daughter of the seventh Earl of Abingdon. The daughter of
the Prime Minister's younger brother, who had died in 1947, Miss
Churchill was thirty-two, twenty-three years younger than her
One of the more notable of the 1938 debutantes, she had studied
2O6 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
philosophy at Oxford, written propaganda during the war for the
Ministry of Information, helped to produce "Britansky Soynznik",
an English language newspaper edited in London and published
by the Russians from Kuibischev, and had worked for a spell at the
Foreign Office as a decoding clerk. Since the war, she had been
engaged as specialist for a woman's magazine, as a publicity worker
for Korda films, and on the staff of a London publishing house.
The wedding took pkce on August 14 at Caxton Hall Register
Office, Westminster. It was a sunny day, and a confetti-throwing
crowd gathered in the street. The bridegroom wore a dark blue suit
and a white carnation. The bride wore swirling pink. Sk Winston
and Lady Churchill were present. A family luncheon party followed
at 10 Downing Street.
That autumn the Foreign Secretary was engaged on his travels
in Europe, working on what he termed his "mosaic" for peace.
In Strasbourg he reminded the Consultative Assembly of the
Council of Europe that failure to harmonize their viewpoints would
lead to the dangerous prospect of European disunity. In Vienna he
assured Dr. Figl, the Austrian Chancellor, that Britain would do
everything in her power to overcome Soviet obstructionism and
achieve a peace treaty that would restore Austria to full inde-
pendence. In Rome he talked with de Gaspari, Italian Prime
Minister, about Trieste and the disputed demarcation line between
Italian and Yugoslavian authority. In Belgrade he compared notes
on the Trieste problem and broached many other issues in long
talks with the Yugoslav President, Marshal Tito, and his advisers.
He remained in Yugoslavia for six days, cordially feted by Tito,
who greeted him in a magnificent white uniform with gold and
crimson facings. When they parted at the Villa Bled, he received
from the Marshal a massive carved box, containing thousands of
cigarettes, and handed to his host, among other presents, a length of
Lovat Cheviot tweed.
Tito, thorough-going Communist and head of a totalitarian
state, had broken with Stalin four years earlier. When criticism
was made of his visit to Tito, Eden said: "So long as I am in the
Foreign Office I am ready to work with any country which will
contribute to the collective effort for peace. That does not mean
that I agree, or you agree with the internal political system of these
countries. But it is not by ostracizing them or holding them aloof
THE THIRD TERM 2O7
that you can best bring diem to understand your way of thinking
and your way of life."
The following spring, Marshal Tito, on the personal invitation
of the Prime Minister, sailed up the Thames. He was a popular
In February 1953, the Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the
Exchequer (R. A. Butler) left Southampton in the Queen Elizabeth.
Their purpose was to talk to American representatives about ideas
upon which the recent Commonwealth Economic Conference had
agreed "The future of world trade, wider world trade (we hope)
and economic well-being in general." According to the political
correspondents, Eden's head, no less than Butler's, was full of such
topics as International Monetary Fund reform, currency stabilizers,
commodity-price regulation, tariff and credit policies. A London
expert, quoted by the "New York Times", said the financial plan
which the two statesmen were taking with them was so complicated
that "Mr. Eden understands ten per cent of it, Mr. Butler about
forty per cent, and their advisers about ninety per cent." Anglo-
phobes across the Atlantic spoke, quite unjustly, of a beggars'
mission. Irish-American pickets waited on the New York water-
front bearing placards, "The U.S. Treasury is not the Garden of
As the Queen Elizabeth sailed slowly up the Hudson River on
March 4, the news came of Stalin's critical illness. Reporters
climbed aboard and sought Eden's views. "I am sorry to hear the
news," he said. "If Mr. Stalin dies," he was asked, "what will be the
effect on international affairs?" "That," he returned, "is a good
question for you to ask, not a wise question for me to answer."
Under the time-table that had been drawn up, Eden was not to
have met the President until later in the week. He flew at once to
Washington and took part in a hastily convoked meeting at the
White House the same night, at which he exchanged views on
Russia's future with the new President, General Eisenhower, and
John Foster Dulles, the new Secretary of State.
After Stalin's death would the Soviets be inclined to show less
animus against the West? That was the question in all minds. At
a Washington Press luncheon, the following day, Eden touched
upon it not unhopefully. "The Western Powers," he said, "must
be ready to negotiate with Russia to end the division of the world
208 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
into two armed camps. ... I have never been one of those people
willing to forecast what will happen behind the Iron Curtain. I
think there is only one attitude to take to build our strength and
adapt ourselves to things which might happen and over which we
have no control behind the Iron Curtain."
At the end of these Washington talks, a joint communique was
issued stating that the Ministers had exchanged views on c 'develop-
ments in the Soviet Union'*. To this bald statement were appended
five other points on which agreement had been reached the need
for ratifying and speeding-up E.D.C.; the line to be pursued for
settlement of the Persian oil dispute; the urgency "for the sake of
everyone concerned" of a constructive solution of Middle Eastern
problems; strengthening of controls in U.K. and our colonial ports
to prevent shipment of strategic materials to the mainland of China;
and confirmation of the principle that the use of U.S. bases in
Britain in an emergency "would be a matter for joint decision by
Her Majesty's Government and the United States Government in
the light of the circumstances prevailing at the time".
There was no word in the communique about the economic
aims which were originally said to be the sole theme of the Eden-
Butler mission. The Foreign Secretary had decided to leave eco-
nomics to the Chancellor. When he rose in the House of Commons
on March 17, the members saw a preoccupied man. His speech,
inevitably unforthcoming about matters still in negotiation with
America, irritated a section of the Opposition. There were repeated
shouts of "Cliche, cliche!" and bursts of ironical laughter at the
more evasive phrases. When he told Members he would not
"inflict" upon them a detailed account of his talks, sardonic amuse-
ment reached its peak.
As he sat down a member on the opposite benches emitted a
loud, artificial yawn. A little later Eden jumped up reprovingly
and, emphasizing his words with repeated bangs on the despatch
box, said that he and the Chancellor had met great friendship and
understanding in America "and I would only ask the House to
meet us in the same spirit". It was later explained that his speech
had been unimaginatively drafted and that, had he had time to
revise it, he would have made a more impressive performance.
The Foreign Secretary was a sick man. At first his indisposition
was not taken seriously. On March 30 it was announced that he was
THE THIRD TERM 2Op
confined to his house with a gastric chill and had been obliged to
cancel his engagements. It was added that he was expected back at
the Foreign Office on April 2. In fact he did not return until
October 5. In the intervening six months he had submitted himself
to three major operations.
The first and second operations, on April 9 and April 29, were
for chronic inflammation of the gall-bladder, and for the removal
of fluid which was causing jaundice. Both were carried out at the
London Clinic. On May 19 his five medical advisers, including the
surgeon who had twice operated upon him, issued a bulletin stating
that the main bile duct had not yet healed and that a further opera-
tion was imperative. "On our advice," they added, "Mr. Eden has
agreed to travel to Boston in the United States in order that Dr.
Richard Cattell, who saw him recently in London, may perform
Dr. Cattell of Boston, using the equipment and professional
assistance of the Lahey Clinic, had developed the modern technique
of bile duct operations. For Eden's flight to Boston (June 5),
President Eisenhower offered the loan of his private 'plane. It was
decided, instead, to use the Canadair 5, the only aircraft of its type
in the world, in which the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh had
travelled during their Canadian tour. Dr. Cattell successfully
operated, removing an obstruction of the main bile duct.
While still confined to his bed in Boston, the patient received
hundreds of well-wishing letters from Americans whom he had
never met. At home there were tributes in the Commons from
political friends and opponents. Speaking in Glasgow Sir Winston
said: "Mr. Eden has been having a pretty bad time. He is a great
Foreign Secretary, a man whose whole career shows that, although
resolute to fight in time of war, he understands fully all the diplo-
matic and international facts and circumstances upon which the
maintenance of peace may be founded."
At length, accompanied by his wife, Eden was able to leave
hospital. His convalescence began with three months lounging
and bathing at a friend's house on Rhode Island, and then on the
Mediterranean coast. When he returned to Westminster he was still
a shadow of the man he had been, but he quickly gained in strength.
KNIGHT OF THE GARTER
TTEARTENED by restoration to health, the Foreign Secretary
L JLresumed his place at Westminster to achieve a round of diplo-
matic successes. He found the means to settle the oil dispute with
Persia. He reached an agreement with Egypt over the base in the
Suez Canal Zone, gaining the acceptance of the Right wing
Conservatives. He took the leading part at Geneva in the discussions
that resulted in a cease-fire in Indo-China. Finally, when the
European Defence Scheme had collapsed, he negotiated a Nine-
Power Pact on which to base Europe's defence. Not all the agree-
ments provided, as fully as he could have wished, for the final
settlement of the problems involved, but they had the supreme
merit that they worked. It was a gratifying record of achievement
and it testified to his physical fitness for the responsibilities of the
Two days after relieving Salisbury, his locum ten ens at the
Foreign Office, Eden had a clamorously affectionate greeting at the
annual conference of the Conservative Party at Margate in October.
Photographers stood on tables or stormed the platform, newsreel
and television cameras turned, delegates clapped and cheered.
Sir Winston Churchill spoke of the "gruelling six months of pain
and danger" he had suffered, but added that now he was recovered
"and able to bring his unrivalled experience and knowledge to bear
upon the problem which haunts all our minds, namely, to find
a secure foundation for lasting peace".
The settlement with Persia was announced on August 5 when
Mossadiq, the Britain-hater, was in gaol and the Shah was recently
returned from brief exile. The Persian Government agreed to pay
the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which had been dispossessed,
.25,000,000 as compensation. The country's oil industry was to
remain nationalized; but Anglo-Iranian was to have a 40 per cent
interest and American, Dutch and French companies the remainder
in a holding company, registered in Britain, which would have
KNIGHT OF THE GARTER 211
practical charge of producing and refining. British interests could
be satisfied with the arrangements and, as Eden told the Persian
Prime Minister, his country stood to derive great benefits. "We
have now," he said, "an opportunity of restoring relations between
our two countries to their traditional friendship." Thus ended a
quarrel that had lasted for three years.
The way for agreement with Egypt on the Suez base had been
prepared before Eden's illness by a complementary pact on the
Sudan. Since 1899 the Sudan had been a Condominium, adminis-
tered by a governor-general on the joint behalf of Great Britain and
Egypt. Shortly before the Conservatives took office in 1951, the
Egyptian Government had torn the 1899 agreement to pieces,
demanding British assent to the merging of the Sudan with Egypt
and the acknowledgment of the King of Egypt as the King of the
Like his Socialist predecessors, Eden declined to agree. By the
autumn of 1952, he had induced General Neguib's administration
to agree to Sudanese self-government. By a pact announced in the
House on February 12, 1953, arrangements were made for early
elections in the Sudan, and the setting-up of a Sudanese Parliament,
under Anglo-Egyptian surveillance, as a first step towards the
election of a Constituent Assembly. There were critics who scoffed
at the notion of illiterate tribesmen going to the polling booth in
the Sudanese wilds. Elections, they argued, would be easily rigged
and Sudanese independence become more precarious in the end than
in the beginning. Eden's view was that the right conceded to the
Sudanese to "order their own development" constituted a reasonable
settlement of a question which had long "bedevilled" our relations
In Egypt itself, riot, arson and assault continued to menace
English lives and property. Negotiations between the British
Ambassador, Sir Ralph Stevenson, and Colonel Nasser, Egypt's
new leader, dragged on. In guarding the Suez Canal, 70,000 British
troops "were locked up". On the Right wing of the Conservative
Party the rumour ran that Eden intended to evacuate this force and
"do a scuttle". In the House, forty or so Conservative dissidents,
known as the Suez rebels, led by Captain Charles Waterhouse,
demanded that the Cairo negotiations be ended. Eden with polite
regret declined. The outline agreement, initialled by the two sides
212 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
in Cairo on July 28, 1954, and signed in its final form three months
later, confirmed the fears of the dissentients.
The British Government undertook to withdraw all British
forces from Egypt in a period of twenty months and to transfer
responsibility for the security and maintenance of the installations
of the base to the Egyptian Government. Colonel Nasser agreed
that, as the British forces withdrew, a smaller, civilian-run base
should be established which, during the seven-year period of the
agreement, should be available for "automatic re-activization" by
the United Kingdom in the event of an external attack on Egypt,
Turkey or any Arab League State.
In the Commons debate that followed, Waterhouse made his
protest at what had been done. "I and my friends feared there would
be a sell-out," he said. "This is not a sell-out. It is a give-away. . . .
We have handed over .500,000,000 worth of stores, plant and
buildings to the Egyptians, and if they like to use them against
Palestine or anybody else, who is going to say, 'No, you will not?' "
Protest made, the agreement was accepted after a meeting at
which the Prime Minister, as well as the Foreign Secretary, ex-
plained the need for new military deployments to correspond with
new strategic facts.
The ending of civil war in Indo-China was an outstanding
personal achievement. For seven years France and Vietnam loyalists
had been combating Vietminh, the Communist rebel movement
which, with Chinese and Russian backing, had developed into
formidable military force. After a gallant resistance, the French
strong-point at Dien Bien Phu was on the point of falling: the rebels
were already preparing to invest Hanoi, capital of the Vietnam
province. A conference of all the nations involved, directly or
indirectly, was summoned at Geneva.
On his way to the conference, Eden halted in Paris, to consult
with Bidault, then Foreign Minister, and Dulles, American Secre-
tary of State. It seemed that all-out military aid must be given to the
French. Instead of proceeding to Geneva, Eden flew home for
consultations. Late that Saturday night (April 24, 1954) he motored
from the London Airport to Chequers to consult with Sir Winston.
In the morning they travelled to No. Ten and conferred with as
many Cabinet Ministers as could be contacted and with the three
KNIGHT OF THE GARTER 213
With the air charged with disastrous possibilities, Eden resumed
his journey to Geneva. There he played the part of intermediary
between Molotov and Chou En-lai, the Soviet and Chinese leaders,
with their Vietminh allies, and Bidault, Dulles and the Vietnam
spokesmen. The situation was made the more delicate and difficult
by the fact that the United States and Communist China were not
on diplomatic terms. As Dulles and Bedell Smith did not officially
recognize Chou En-lai's presence, Eden had to serve as a * 'hyphen* *
He addressed himself to the practicalities of a cease-fire, urging
the two sides to agree on areas of concentration for their troops.
He reasoned that once military concentration areas were agreed to,
political demarcation lines would be the easier to settle.
The negotiations, begun at Geneva in April, dragged on during
the summer. By mid-May Eden was doubting Communist good
faith. In early June he was beginning to talk of possible failure. The
divergences between the two sides were wide and deep. "I say this,"
he confessed, "with infinite regret, but it is our stern duty to face
French opinion was divided and pessimistic. Lamel's government
fell. Pierre Mendes-France succeeded, and with him came a resur-
gence of hope. The new French leader pledged himself, in con-
junction with France's allies, to bring the Indo-China war to an
end within a month. For the undertaking to be kept, the armistice
should have begun by midnight on July 20. The final documents
were not signed until the small hours of the 2ist, but none was
disposed to twit "Mr. France" on this account. A conflict which
had cost France and her associates 92,000 dead, 114,000 wounded
and 28,000 prisoners was at last ended. For the first time since 1939
no war the cold war always excepted was proceeding anywhere
in the world. The doors of the temple of Janus might at last be
There were acclamations for the Foreign Secretary for his share
in the settlement. From Sir Winston Churchill he received the
telegram: "I send you my sincere congratulations and those of
your colleagues on the success which has at length attended your
patient and persevering skill at Geneva." In the House of Lords one
of his old Socialist opponents, Lord Jowitt, spoke in praise of the
manner in which Eden had stuck to his task. Lord Samuel, for the
214 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
Liberal peers, said the Foreign Secretary had been spokesman not
only for the United Kingdom but for the Commonwealth and the
entire United Nations, a circumstance which made them feel
proud and grateful.
There were dissentient protests from critics who complained
that under the cease-fire terms the Communists were confirmed in
their sway over one-half of the Vietnam, and were well placed to
swallow the other half by infiltration. In the Commons, a Tory
back-bencher sarcastically asked how far Geneva was distanced
from Munich. The parallel had already been suggested by a widely-
discussed "Punch" cartoon that showed Eden wearing Neville
Chamberlain's swallow-tail coat and carrying the legendary
umbrella. American uneasiness and hostility were expressed by a
writer in "Time" magazine:
The outside world has a mistaken image of Eden. It tends to think
of him as a courageous anti-appeaser of the Munich days, who resigned
rather than go along with Chamberlain's policy. But the truth is that
he resigned only under pressure from his Under-Secretary, the present
Lord Salisbury. Eden obviously relishes his role in Geneva and delights
in recapturing the glamour of his League of Nations days. His friends
picture him as the only real diplomat on the Western side. Is he not the
only one who can lunch with the U.S.'s Bedell Smith [Under-Secretary
of State] or France's Bidault, yet take tea with Chou En-lai and dine
with Molotov? The British newspapers are running over with enthu-
siasm for his exploits without stopping to consider whether anything is
gained by drinking tea with the Chinese.
In one of his speeches in the House on the progress of the
Geneva talks (June 23), Eden went out of his way to speak of
Molotov's helpfulness in matters of procedure and the improvement
in Anglo-Chinese relations which had resulted from his contacts with
Chou En-lai. AH this, he submitted, amounted to "a real contri-
bution to peaceful co-existence". He referred with thinly disguised
impatience to the difficulties that arose at Geneva from the absence
of normal diplomatic relations between the United States and
Communist China. Somebody, he said, had to undertake the job
of providing those countries with a channel of communication,
otherwise "we should very soon have been completely unstuck".
Accordingly he decided to become the channel himself "at the
risk of being called a Municheer".
KNIGHT OF THE GARTER 215
He had no more than begun a well-earned holiday in Austria
before a new and acute crisis developed. The French Assembly,
harried by old enmities and alarms, were bent on rejecting the
E.D.C. treaty. Instead of permitting the Germans to re-arm, they
would keep them at arm's length. Cutting short his holiday, Eden
flew back to London. In the dining-room at Chartwell he con-
ferred on Germany's future with Sir Winston and Mendes-France,
who had flown over at short notice to enlist British aid. Means were
discussed for relieving French anxieties over the re-arming of
a sovereign and independent Western Germany, subject to certain
safeguards, as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The co-operation of other European states was necessary. In
September Eden set out on a five-day Continental tour. The
Saturday he spent in Brussels, talking with the Foreign Ministers of
Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. On the Sunday he was with
Adenauer in Bonn. Monday and Tuesday he spent in Rome. On
the Wednesday he and Mendes-France were closeted in Paris with
The result of these hurried consultations was the London Nine-
Power Conference and the Paris agreements in which the findings
of the conference were embodied. The Powers, whose statesmen
gathered at Lancaster House in September 1954, were the six
E.D.C. countries France, Western Germany, Italy, Holland,
Belgium and Luxembourg and three others who had substantial
forces in Western Germany Britain, Canada and the United
States. At the conference session of September 29, 1954, Eden
electrified his fellow-delegates by offering a pledge on behalf of
Britain. If the conference were successful and Western Germany
became a member of the North Atlantic Community, then
The United Kingdom will continue to maintain on the mainland of
Europe, including Germany, the effective strength of the United
Kingdom forces which are now assigned to Saceur (the Supreme
Allied Commander in Europe) that is, four Divisions and the
Tactical Air Force or whatever Saceur regards as equivalent
fighting capacity. The United Kingdom undertakes not to with-
draw these forces against the wishes of the majority of the Brussels
Treaty Powers, who should take their decision in the knowledge of
Saceur s view.
2l6 SIK ANTHONY EDEN
Only two qualifications were made. One was that die promise
would not necessarily be binding in the event of "an acute overseas
emergency". The second, that if the maintenance of British forces
on the European mainland imposed too great a strain on British
finances, the North Atlantic Council would be invited to review
the financial conditions on which the formations were maintained.
The effect of the pledge Eden had announced was that the United
Kingdom would maintain some 100,000 armed men, or an equiva-
lent strength, in Western Europe practically for the rest of the
century. It was a commitment that had never been entertained in
the years between the wars. British isolation was ended. We had
accepted responsibilities as a member of the concert of Europe.
On October 4, 1954, the nine ministers set their names to the
Final Act of the London Conference. This laid it down that, subject
to ratification by their respective parliaments, Western Germany
should be brought into N.A.T.O. as a full and equal member.
Western Germany would be authorized to call up at least 500,000
men to form an army of twelve divisions and to revive her arms
industry, building tanks, heavy guns and limited types of sub-
marines, fighter 'planes and bombers. For her part, Western
Germany undertook not to manufacture anywhere within her
frontiers atomic, chemical or biological weapons or long-range
"If," argued Mr. Eden two days later at the Conservative
Party's annual conference (October 6, 1954), "we were to continue
to discriminate against Germany and to treat her as an inferior, we
would ourselves destroy those very impulses among the Germans
which offer us the greatest hope for the future. You may have your
suspicions of what Germany may do. But if you ostracize Germany
you make those suspicions into certainties. If you turn your back
upon her you will certainly drive Germany once more along dark
and dangerous paths."
There was a body of opinion on the Left which dissented from
this view. Yet the principle of German rearmament was endorsed
that autumn both by the Labour Party and the Trades Union Con-
gress, although with small majorities. The House of Commons
approved the agreements (November 18, 1954) by 264 votes to 4.
As main architect of the new European order of security the
Foreign Secretary was congratulated upon his personal triumph
KNIGHT OF THE GARTER 217
by Dulles, Mendes-France and Adenauer. The United States
Secretary of State backed the British decision to maintain an army
in Europe as "historically momentous". President Eisenhower
greeted the results of the conference as one of the greatest diplomatic
achievements of our time.
As recognition of his services the honour of a Garter Knighthood
was conferred on the Foreign Secretary. On October 20 he was
received in audience by Queen EUzabeth who knighted him and
invested him with the insignia of the Order.
A milestone had been passed in Europe's history, but no mile-
stone marks the end of the road that is travelled by those who
labour for world peace. Each achievement is no more than the spur
to new endeavours. After the advance in Europe came the problems
of Asia and Formosa. The intentions of the Soviet Union remained
baffling and menacing. Under Malenkov's brief ascendancy hopes
had been nourished that a more conciliatory policy had followed
Stalin's passing. Sir Anthony was not able to encourage this sense
of optimism. Ministers of fourteen N. A.T.O. nations met in Paris
in December 1954 and surveyed Soviet trends. They found, as Sir
Anthony said, "no reason to consider that the Soviet threat to the
free world had diminished. The massive military power of the
Soviet Union is growing rapidly. Soviet policy is still aimed at
confusing, dividing and weakening the West."
The year 1955 was not far advanced before preparations were
concluded for the change in the Premiership. On the day following
the dinner party at which he entertained his Sovereign at 10
Downing Street, Sir Winston Churchill surrendered the seals of
office. On April 6, Queen Elizabeth invited Sir Anthony Eden to
form a new Government.
AT WORK AND HOME
WORK, hard, unremitting work, is the lot of the Foreign
Secretary. Within a few hours of taking office, he finds that
he has been appointed to a term of hard labour.
There are Ministers who are driven less hard. You can imagine
that the Privy Seal may take time off for a chat with the Lord
President, or that Agriculture may pause in his indefatigable labours
to share a cup of tea with industrious Education. At the Foreign
Office the pressure of the papers requires ceaseless and tireless
Eden brought the habit of industry to his duties. His day began
early and finished late. Even before he had set out for his department
his first telephone call of the morning gave directions for his
immediate requirements. At night, after he had returned to his
slippers and his fireside, the despatch box was brought in with the
last delivery of documents.
Unlike the Prime Minister just across the way, the Foreign
Secretary does not sleep in. A grateful nation houses the Minister
in a flat in Carlton Gardens. On fine mornings, if time did not
press, Sir Anthony was to be seen walking over to his office which
he entered by the side door from the Horse Guards. Often he was
accompanied by his Golden Labrador, who first made her entry at
the Foreign Office in 1951. Officials were quickly on terms with
Bess who, if no one came across from Carlton Gardens to walk her
back, was accustomed to spend her morning curled before the fire.
The Foreign Office is handy for calling on the Prime Minister
just across Downing Street, but is not otherwise conspicuous for
its convenience. We have not been fortunate in our Whitehall
architecture and the buildings around the Foreign Office quadrangle
are things neither of beauty nor of comfort. Sir Gilbert Scott would
have carried out the work in modern Gothic but for Palmerston's
objections. Instead there is a facade of little distinction, and behind
it a labyrinth of corridors, stairways and draughts.
The Foreign Secretary's room is reached by way of the main
AT WORK AND HOME 219
staircase that fails to achieve the impressiveness of the stairways
in some of London's mansion homes. The approach to the room of
state at the north-west corner is by way of a corridor, its walls
decorated with murals. Britannia appears as a matron in various
disguises, attended by her children of Empire and Commonwealth,
clustered at her knees or buckling on the sword in her defence.
Outside the door to the ministerial apartment Silence kneels, dark
and in blue tulle, her finger to her lips.
What impressions were Anthony Eden's when first he passed as
Minister into the inner shrine of diplomacy? Did he walk across to
the windows which are the dominating feature as the door is
opened? Did he reflect that it was before these Edward Grey stood
in 1914 as he mourned the lights going out in Europe?
It is scarcely possible that on his first entry Eden can have
stopped short before gazing from the windows with their incom-
parable London vistas to the West across St. James* Park, to the
North across the Horse Guards to the Admiralty Building and the
Duke of York high above the Steps. Glancing at the room, his first
impression would have been of space and loftiness, a place for great
thoughts and high endeavours. Artistically he may have considered
the proportions not quite correct, height a shade too great for
length for a fastidious taste. The abundance of gilt on view on wall
and ceiling could not have escaped his eye. "Ornate" was Simon's
verdict, which has otherwise been rendered garish.
In his chair, seated at the desk, did Eden, like Simon before him,
remember Curzon's inquiry for the missing ink-pot? "In Lord
Salisbury's time there stood here an ink-stand of alabaster what
is this contraption of glass and brass?" The days of alabaster have
At the Minister's back is the cavity in which fires no longer
burn, to the great advantage of the Minister's health. In front of
him are the West windows; to his left, separated by a wide track,
are the glass-fronted bookcases; to his right, across a wider space,
a conference table, and the windows overlooking the Horse Guards.
Before this desk Eden was accustomed to take his seat at ten
o'clock in the morning. For some hours he was seated, head down,
immersed in papers reaching the red-topped desk in steady stream
memoranda on blue paper, headed with the Foreign Office crest,
telegrams and reports from embassies and legations abroad.
220 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
Eden reads with deceptive ease and speed. The colleague or
official who thinks that the speed is too great for the contents to be
assimilated receives quick proof to the contrary. Eden's own
letters and memoranda are dictated to a secretary. Only in cases of
difficulty, where there is need for extreme precision in the use of
words, can he spare the time to write down what he wishes to
communicate. The papers submitted to him bear his markings in
red, a shade in ink by office tradition reserved exclusively for the
Minister. His Socialist predecessors, Bevin and Morrison, preferred
to express themselves in blue, but Eden reverted to old-time
It is not by means of memoranda and written phrases neatly
turned that Eden chooses to transact affairs. His preference is for
the personal approach. Where Salisbury and Grey plied their pens,
Eden sought to establish direct contact between man and man.
For him the swift exchange of talk across the table took the place of
the leisured and laborious circulation of memoranda. He excels in
the transaction of business in Committee.
Within his office his methods are consultative and democratic.
He demands the amplest guidance that the department can provide
and he seeks it from a wide range of his officials.
Some Foreign Ministers would be content with consulting the
adviser-in-chief, now Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick, Permanent Under-
secretary. This was not Eden's method. When a major problem
arose his course was to call a conference, to which were summoned
any members of the staff sufficiently informed about the matter
involved. There was nothing formal in the proceedings. All were
invited to join in the discussion over which the Minister presided as
question-master. Thus he gained the advantage of the opinions of
a variety of minds, and the staff benefited in experience and
By the time of his third term at the Foreign Office, Eden's long
and wide contact with affairs had made him a Minister of un-
paralleled experience. For a quarter of a century he had been engaged
in the tasks of diplomacy. He was the senior of the majority of his
professional advisers. Few could surpass him in the wide range of
his knowledge. Aided by an admirable memory he could find his
way unaided through documents and precedents.
For his staff it was at times disconcerting. They might search in
AT WORK AND HOME 221
vain for a memorandum or instruction of twenty years before, to
discover that, though the files might not be revealing, the Minister's
memory was clear. He remembered because it was something that
he himself had drawn up. Younger men found that it was unwise to
challenge the accuracy of the Minister's memory.
His knowledge of affairs has been extended by his many visits
abroad. He is one of the most travelled men of the age. Sir Winston
Churchill had more miles to his credit by far than any Prime
Minister, but he was out-travelled by his Foreign Minister. Sir
Anthony has stood in most of the capitals of Europe. He has ranged
from Murmansk to Athens, through the Near East and North
Africa. He has flown East to Bangkok. New York is nearly as
familiar to him as Paris, and in Paris he feels nearly as much at home
as in London.
Alone amongst Foreign Secretaries he had journeyed as exten-
sively in the British Empire and Dominions as in foreign parts.
Twice he has visited Australia, first as a young man at the outset
of his career, and again in 1949 in the course of a round-the-
Dominions trip, that took him from New Zealand to the Khyber
Pass and added 40,000 miles to the sum of his globe-trotting.
To the knowledge he has obtained of the world at first hand
he has added the advantage of the use of languages. As a youth,
under his governess, he obtained an early command of French and
German. So good is his French that as Minister he dispensed with
a French interpreter. French novels have been the diversion of his
leisure hours and he speaks on Proust as an authority. In diplomatic
negotiations he has used French with all who can express them-
selves in that tongue. His German remains adequate, but he uses it
with far less fluency. In the Middle East he is at home where Arabic
is spoken, and he was able to converse with the Shah of Persia and
Queen Suraya in their own language.
Men whose memories go far back in Foreign Office history
contrast the Eden easiness of manner with the autocrats of the past.
But the smile does not altogether conceal the Minister's firmness,
though it may smooth the way to the accomplishment of his
purpose. Eden has a tenacity where his principles are involved, and
he has moral courage. He can say "no" not merely to an opponent,
but to a friend.
The urbanity of the diplomat is rarely disturbed, but men of an
222 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
artistic temperament are not imperturbable. In moments of stress,
particularly when his health was adding to the anxieties of his
office, there was occasional evidence of the irascible streak in the
nature he has inherited from his father.
The story is told that Sir William Eden was distressed by the
persistency with which the barometer at Windlestone registered
fair though the heavens were discharging themselves outside. He
tapped the glass, but still it stood at fair. Pulling it from the wall he
flung it on the lawn, saying, * 'There, see for yourself, you bloody
fool." Parallel, though milder, stories have been related of Sir
William's son. But if the Foreign Secretary should have pitched
a Blue Book across the room in a moment of irritation, it would
have been a salutary relief from the strain of concentrated attention
on his tasks.
The preparation of speeches for the House of Commons has
been the chief occasion for his anxieties. Many accomplished
Parliamentarians suffered from stage-fright, even Gladstone, plead-
ing guilty to nervousness on great occasions. No Minister takes
more trouble than Eden with the phrasing of his speeches. Draft
follows draft until he is satisfied that the words accurately convey
his meaning. In the drawing up of replies to parliamentary questions
he is no less exacting. Curzon was remembered for his pedagogic
precision. Eden strives for exactitude and he shares the Curzon
belief in truthfulness as an essential quality in diplomacy.
Eden is conscientious, Eden is accessible. Except when pressure
of affairs made it impossible to do so, he found the opportunity
to receive all M.P.s who wished to discuss with him Foreign
Office business and to dictate an answer to members who wrote
There were two exacting masters he had to serve the drive
that proceeds from within him and the drive from without in the
person of Churchill. Sir Winston used him unsparingly, a measure
of the esteem in which he held him. Eden was content to serve to
the limits of his capacity.
The story is told that, on a recent birthday, he had had a gruel-
ling day. The Cabinet had argued long and sat late. He had not long
been back home before another despatch box was brought in
marked "From the Prime Minister, for immediate attention." For
once Sir Anthony jibbed. "I'm damned if I'm going through that
AT WORK AND HOME 223
as well," he said to the friend with whom he was sharing a drink.
"I shouldn't get to sleep before two."
In the morning he telephoned his friend repentantly. "I take
back everything I said about Winston. The despatch box from
Number Ten: what d'you think I found inside? Two boxes of
cigars and a note in Winston's handwriting 'To Anthony on his
birthday with good wishes from W. S. C.' "
Relaxation is not easy for a Foreign Secretary. The flow of
official papers continues remorselessly. There is no escape from the
ubiquitous despatch boxes. They follow him after he has left for
home in the evening and they are not to be evaded during the
week-end. With a Minister of the secretiveness of old Lord Salisbury,
the week-end absence was a time of trial for the Foreign Office
staff. Many were the occasions on which the under-Secretary
would listen to the wailings of outraged officials when Salisbury
had dealt with his papers at Hatfield, in the solitude of his study,
and had preserved no record of the process. Eden, more methodical
and less secretive, gave no such cause for complaint.
Relaxation for him has meant the countryside. Gardening is his
hobby and tennis his sport, interrupted of late years by his ill-
health. Now that fitness has returned with health he may be seen
on the courts once again.
Gardening was his diversion during the years he used Binderton
as his week-end refuge. A smallish Sussex mansion, of mellow
eighteenth-century brick, Binderton is not far from Chichester.
On one side of the house is a lawn, with shady trees and a glimpse of
Goodwood Downs over the wall. On hot days during the Forties,
Eden could often be seen asprawl in a deck chair, with writing-pad
on knee and Blue Books strewn about him on the grass.
The lawn was his open-air study. Here he would prepare his
speeches on Peace Through Strength, a Property-Owning Demo-
cracy and other themes dear to his heart for delivery from the
Opposition Front Bench or at Tory Rallies in the country.
To the side of the house is an extensive kitchen-garden where,
after an hour or two with his Blue Books, Eden would often give
the men a hand at digging or hoeing.
Informality was the keynote of his days at Binderton. Guests
would drive up expecting to be received by the butler. Half-way
between gates and door, Eden would appear in corduroy slacks, an
224 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
old sports shirt and gardening boots. Tennis before dinner was the
rule on summer days. The guests would emerge in spotless flannels.
Eden, still in his stained corduroys, would grin and say, "Why have
you brought those?"
A visitor of those days, reporting on his experience, writes:
"The tennis incident should have taught me a lesson. But no. I went
upstairs and changed for dinner. I had just tied my bow when,
through my bedroom door, which was ajar, I glimpsed Anthony
pass along the corridor and go downstairs. He was still in the same
old slacks and sports shirt. The only difference was that he had tied
a silk handkerchief round his neck. That gave me the hint. I changed
back into my old hacking jacket and made myself at home.
"Here is another incident that shows just how informally at
home we were. He said there was an invitation for the following
night to dinner with a neighbour, a man up to the ears in politics
and business; would my wife and I care to run over with him? Or
should we all stay at Binderton and have a free and easy time?
I said, 'Yes, let's stay at Binderton/ Anthony was pleased. 'Yes,' he
said, 'that's what I wanted to do. I'm so relieved.' "
Binderton was not the place from which guests would wish to
scurry away. There were good paintings on the walls, most of them
discreetly modern, the French outnumbering the English. There
were good wines in the cellars, and there were good books on the
shelves, many of them French, many with cordial words of inscrip-
tion from their authors. In the arts, as in the diplomatic field, Eden
has been devotedly Francophil, as he first testified in the paper on
Cezanne that he wrote for an undergraduate society while up at
When he returned to the Foreign Office in the autumn of 1951,
after six years in opposition, he had to let Binderton go. His London
house was No. 4 Chesterfield Street, a slice of Georgian Mayfair,
tall, narrow-chested. An earlier tenant had been Beau Brummell.
This house he retained until he moved, with his furniture, books
and pictures, into the Foreign Secretary's official residence, No. I
Carlton Gardens. The Chesterfield Street home was a degree more
elegant than Binderton. His study had upholstery in Regency
stripes, cherry and ivory. Over the fireplace hung a woman's head
by Marie Laurencin, faced on the opposite wall by a Derain land-
AT WORK AND HOME 225
Here Eden had consultations with his political associates during
the election campaign of 1951. One of them so far forgot himself
as to begin a sentence: "If we win this election . . ." "No ifs about
it," corrected Eden reprovingly. "We are going to win." A fort-
night later, on October 27, 1951, he was proved right by the
slightest of margins. Herbert Morrison, who had hardly had time
to hang up his hat and coat, moved out of the Foreign Office and
Anthony Eden moved back.
Since undergoing his major operation two years ago, Sir
Anthony has recovered his health and the fitness of years gone by.
Physically and mentally the improvement has been striking and it
has been attended by a nervous relaxation that has produced a man
more at ease with life than ever he was in the past. It is not often
now that he runs impatient fingers through his silvering hair, and
gives other signs of the nerve strains of an eager, restless tempera-
In these ktter days he has found relaxation in the peace of the
countryside in a retreat set on the Downs. It is a cottage tucked
away in the hills in the parish of Broad Chalke, that lies on the
Shaftesbury side of Salisbury. It is a tiny place acquired by Lady
Eden before her marriage. Here in the peace of Wiltshire the
Foreign Secretary, on an occasional week-end, found a haven of
refuge from the cares of state.
IN THE AMERICAN MIRROR
WHEN Anthony Eden first visited New York in February
1938 after resigning from the Cabinet, two cutters loaded
with newspapermen and women chiefly women went down
the bay to meet him. Eden then was Prince Charming, Mr. Elegance,
the man who had made the black homburg known all over the
world, the film star statesman. American newspaper editors played
up the Eden story for all, and perhaps more than, it was worth day
The serious newspapers "New York Times" and "New York
Herald Tribune" published in full the speech he made before the
Pilgrim Society and commented upon it enthusiastically. But the
tabloid "Daily News" and "Daily Mirror" ran entire picture pages
of "the handsomest man in politics". The women reporters and the
society editors gushed about his classic features, his long dark
eyelashes, his limpid eyes, his clear skin, his wavy hair, his charm
It was embarrassing, but Eden did not betray annoyance. Even
during the rush trip in the cutter (the Queen Mary was late and Eden
was sped to Manhattan by the Coast Guard to keep his speaking
engagement), when the questions were mainly about his looks and
his clothes, he was patient.
The Press treatment of this 1938 visit was similar to that which
Fleet Street extends to visiting film idols, except that it was five
times more blatant. Eden was deluged with fan mail from teenage
college girls to elderly matrons.
The Eden who goes to the United States now has an entirely
different reception. He is regarded as one of the Western world's
most experienced statesmen, perhaps the wisest diplomat in office,
and second only to Sir Winston Churchill as a British leader.
Editors no longer send their women reporters and society gossips to
interview him. Chief Editorial writers, political commentators and
columnists cover the Eden visits. No one mentions the homburg
hat any more, or bothers about the impeccable clothes. What Eden
IN THE AMERICAN MIRROR 22y
has to say and which policies he formulates are the American
He has been the front cover man of "Time" and the subject of
long profiles in almost every leading magazine. His popularity
among Americans is as vast as ever, but it is of a different brand
and pattern. No longer is he regarded as a handsome, immaculate
wonder-boy, but the mature, brilliantly skilled architect of the
Western alliance, the man who last year saved Europe by his
exertions and example.
Sir Anthony is better known on the other side of the Atlantic
than most of the great personalities on the world stage. He was not
the great popular hero that Sir Winston Churchill became during
the desperate years of the Second World War. But his record over
a long period of time had etched deeply in the public mind a picture
of a serious, completely honourable man, who, by his actions at
some of the turning-points of history, had become a stabilizing
force in a period of uncertainty.
Looking back over the accounts of Sir Anthony's career that
have appeared in American newspapers and periodicals, it is
interesting to see how this picture has developed from the frivolous
sketch to a full-length portrait.
In the early days he was thought of as the typical product of
a good English family, and of good English schools. His homburg
hat was the symbol by which he was known. It was as familiar as
the Churchillian cigar, and in at least one American city his presence
was celebrated by a display of such hats in a shop window under
a "Welcome to Anthony Eden" sign. People accustomed to the
rough and tumble of American political life, where family tradition
counts for so little, were inclined to feel that like the Duke of
Buccleuch, in the words of the famous "Vanity Fair" portrait, he
had fairly withstood the temptations of a high position "acquired
without personal exertion".
This feeling was strengthened in some minds by repeated state-
ments that Sir Anthony had been chosen as Sir Winston's successor.
The long period of waiting which followed gave rise in the United
States to jests and gibes. One of these, recorded by the columnist
Leonard Lyons, is of a friend saying to Sir Winston, "You know, if
you don't retire soon Anthony will be too old for the job."
Some of the best informed American correspondents in London,
228 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
who had seen enough of the Foreign Secretary to know something
of the man behind the legend, had assured their readers that he was
more than a lucky political heir. In the "New York Times" on
April 4, 1954, when it was believed that Sir Winston's retirement
was imminent, Drew Middleton wrote "The standard portrait
of him in this country and abroad is that of a debonair, confident,
easy sophisticate, interested principally in diplomacy, but playing
his part in the gay life of London's West End. The real Anthony
Eden contradicts that picture. He wears an air of nonchalance and
elegant ease in public but underneath he is a highly strung person,
of great powers of concentration, precise, stubborn, dogged, and
given to bitter, sudden gusts of anger. There is iron beneath the
charm of Anthony Eden, and it was forged in fierce fires. . . ."
A number of studies of Sir Anthony's career and character por-
trayed him as a man fully fitted by training and quality to become
Prime Minister. Even the earlier accounts had usually given him
credit for his front-line experiences in the First World War. From
the day when he broke with Neville Chamberlain, he was regarded
in the United States as one of the leading opponents of appeasement
and to most Americans the word "appeasement" is like a red rag
to a bull. By his resignation from office in 1938, he established for
himself a reservoir of credit on the Western side of the Atlantic.
"Americans trust Mr. Eden," wrote Dorothy Thompson, the
columnist, "because on the record of the past he has proved himself
right, and has had the courage of his intellectual convictions. Right,
way back in 1923, when he urged that Great Britain protect herself
against attack from the air; right in fighting to protect the system
of collective security; right in his repeated efforts for an under-
standing with Moscow; right in his estimate of Munich as a step
towards war instead of peace. And right in the conviction, which
he shares with Churchill, that the future of our civilization demands
a permanent understanding between all the members of the English-
In kter years he must sometimes have shuddered at American
preoccupation with the "appeasement" label, which has so often
been used to damn any form of negotiation or compromise.
Willy-nilly he has remained a man whom Americans like because
he has once and resoundingly done something of which they
completely and wholeheartedly approve.
IN THE AMERICAN MIRROR 229
The two strong elements in the American picture of Sir Anthony
his war record and his record as Foreign Secretary in the Hitler-
Mussolini era have consistently helped to redress the balance
when American opinion has turned against him because of some
change in the tide of political events. In Anglo-American relations,
mutual recrimination is historically as noticeable as mutual good-
will, and the intemperate criticism of Britain that is periodically
heard inevitably includes anyone as responsible for British policy
as the Foreign Secretary.
The process of praise-and-blame was neatly illustrated in 1954,
when the strength of anti-Communist feeling in the United States
raised impatience with the more cautious British attitude to fever
In May of that year, "Time" magazine launched an angry attack
on the Foreign Secretary, which it illustrated with the rather lurid
cartoon depicting him armed with the Chamberlain umbrella.
Annoyed by the British Minister's efforts at Geneva to prevent war
over Indo-China, it accused him of making * 'every hour profitable
for the Communists", and asserted that his policy and Churchill's
made them look "alarmingly like appeasers".
Within a few weeks there was worse to come. On the eve of his
visit to Washington with the Prime Minister in June 1954, Eden had
made a speech in the House of Commons proposing a security
system for the Far East which he suggested might be somewhat on
the lines of Locarno. This speech, according to "Time", revealed
the fact that "the United States has no strong, reliable ally".
Arguing that the speech reflected a "soft" attitude towards
Communism, one leading columnist, David Lawrence, wrote: "If
a single address ever alienated more persons in a single country
and particularly in a national legislature than did Mr. Eden's
address as it was read by most of the members of the Congress of
the United States, no one has ever called attention to such a destruc-
tive utterance before."
When the British Ministers arrived in Washington, none of the
dire happenings occurred that these fulminations had foreshadowed.
The visit went off well, partly because Sir Winston Churchill
dominated the scene with his accustomed skill, partly because of
the calm handling of the situation by President Eisenhower, an old
friend of war-time days.
23O SIR ANTHONY EDEN
Less than six months later, in November 1954, another Luce
publication, "Life" magazine, was saying that, in the words of
F. S. Oliver in "The Endless Adventure", Sir Anthony "might
someday claim that greatness that 'belongs to the rarest bird that
flies'" the greatness of the "great Foreign Minister". This con-
clusion was reached by Emmet John Hughes in an appreciation of
Eden's career, in which he declared that the action he took to
restore unity to the West after France had rejected E.D.C. had made
him "a hero of the Atlantic world".
"Sir Anthony Eden," wrote Hughes, "is the kind of man whose
character, temperament and habits are perfectly designed to torment
all biographers, who find themselves helplessly retreating (like
fellow M.P. Woodrow Wyatt) to such epigrams as 'The most
extraordinary thing about Anthony Eden is that there is nothing
extraordinary about him*. While these words express well enough
the kind of faceless image of urbanity that Anthony Eden has
seemed ever to turn to the world, they are neither very illuminating
nor very accurate."
To Hughes one of the keys to Eden's character was a remark
made to him by one of his friends: "More than nine-tenths of his
world and life is what he happens to have chosen as his craft
foreign affairs. He lets little else in."
In his record in the First World War, Hughes detected the key
to the warm feeling for him which might not be expected to
accompany a dedication of this austere kind. "Captain Eden of the
lost generation had a special identity," he wrote. "He was one of
the thousands of British junior officers who had borne the ugliest
burden of the slow, agonizing trench battle that was World War I.
Between such officers those who lived and their countrymen
there grew a singular, indefinable bond of respect and affection,
a thanks and a trust no less vivid for being beyond expression. From
this has come the warm and changeless popular confidence that has
ever followed Eden, politician and diplomat."
Weighing his qualifications for a post in which he would be
less the specialist in a necessarily narrow field than the leader
responsible for policy in all fields, Hughes observed: "The mind of
Churchill recoils in horror from the stale platitudes of an Eden
speech. Yet he knows that Eden is the superior performer in the
House of Commons: unsurpassed at answering questions, brilliant
IN THE AMERICAN MIRROR 231
at summing up a debate. Partly because he is less fond of the
impudent epigram that wins smiles and loses friends, Eden almost
certainly will prove the wiser, steadier party leader. . . . Not many
men of the Western world are going to do more to shape the future
than Sir Anthony; working at his art with the zeal for which he
cheered Cezanne; with the gift for patience and compromise that
Sir William (his father) quite unintentionally taught him; with the
changeless sense of personal loyalty that has kept this Anthony from
ever playing Brutus to the weary Churchill; with the loathing of
war that few but a young subaltern in the trenches of 1915 could
come to know; with the disdain for the peace-killing pacificism that
sapped the strength of Britain in the '305 as none knows better
than this man."
It is a good, a fair, and a thoughtful portrait. Other American
observers have been in some ways less flattering, but always they
have found in Eden something that gives promise of greater things
In June 1954, the "US News and World Report" pictured him
in this way: "At 57, he is greying, but still dapper and urbane. As
ever, he gives the appearance of smiling confidence, nonchalance.
Underneath, however, he is high-strung, taut, inclined to be edgy.
Opposition from his colleagues is said to produce stubbornness and
sudden, bitter bursts of anger for which he quickly and charmingly
makes amends. Mr. Eden is a tireless worker, with a gift for con-
centration, and a precise memory. But, his critics say, this leads to
too much attention to detail, too little regard for major forces that
may be at work."
Americans have been much impressed by his capacity for hard
work. Writing a series of articles about him for the Hearst news-
papers in July 1953, Austin Morris referred to him as Britain's
"Beau Brummell Foreign Secretary" and "the glamour boy of
British politics", but he also praised his "cool and precise mind".
"Eden," he wrote, "is capable of great concentration. He approaches
all problems with painstaking patience, that essentially British
method which other nations sometimes mistake for dilatoriness."
The British accent, bane of so many British visitors to the
United States, does not seem to make Eden less welcome as a
speaker in America. In 1938 the National Association of Manufac-
turers brought him to New York as its principal speaker, and his
232 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
style of delivery was much appreciated. The content of his speeches,
however, has often been criticized. "Eden's oratorical style," wrote
Noel F. Busch in "Life" magazine in August 1943, "the direct
antithesis of Churchill's own, is calm, not to say soporific Eden
employs the dekyed truism and the qualified platitude." But he
added: "To judge Eden's importance to the world by his verbal
contributions to it would be as unfair as to judge a picture by its
frame. He should be evaluated rather for what he has done and for
what he is. He is a classic specimen, complete with flaws, of an
England that men like himself made great. England does not alter
rapidly, and so he is also, in a sense, a symbol of the future."
In the context of the American scene it does a man no harm to
enjoy, on one level, as Eden does, a reputation comparable to that
of a popular film star. Americans like and understand film stars.
They do not think less well of Eden for being a good looker, and
what Beverley Baxter once described as "a natural clothes hanger",
or as one magazine once put it, "to the camera born". The secretaries
who in a high state of excitement peeped out of their office doors
on the occasion of one of his visits to the State Department, anxious
to catch a glimpse of him, were displaying a universal curiosity and
American reporters, the most hard-boiled people anywhere to
be found, have a good opinion of Eden. "He probably has a better
manner with newspaper men than any other British Minister,"
Drew Middleton once wrote in the "New York Times".
This is obviously not because he yields the innumerable anec-
dotes for which Churchill is famous and beloved, or because he is
apt to give off memorable phrases, although old hands in Washing-
ton still relish his remark there during the fuss over his speech
referring to Locarno "I didn't know Locarno was a dirty word
in the United States."
Many stories are told in America, both of his sharp temper and
of his thoughtfulness towards his colleagues. The two things seem
to cancel each other out One example of his occasional irritability
recalled by British correspondents occurred during a Press con-
ference in his sitting-room at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. His
secretary interrupted this to tell him the British Ambassador in
Washington was on the telephone and wanted to speak to him
urgently. Giving an exclamation of annoyance, the Foreign
IN THE AMERICAN MIRROR 233
Secretary said: "Tell the Ambassador I am busy with the Press.
Ask him to ring back later/'
Yet on another occasion when his staff had told him that he was
to make a broadcast at a certain hour, and had overlooked the fact
that there is a three hours' difference of time between New York
and San Francisco, he did not raise a murmur when he learned that
the speech would have to be ready three hours sooner than he
expected. Cancelling his immediate arrangements, he wrote the
When in December 1954 he confessed in the House that he
hated going to diplomatic cocktail parties, and remarked, "No one
would do such a thing for pleasure, I imagine," he set off a wave of
sympathetic leading articles in the American Press.
"He expressed the feelings of some millions of American males,"
declared the "Baltimore Sun". "Cocktail parties are an abomina-
tion." And the "Providence Journal" commented: "We think
mighty well of Secretary Eden for unmasking the cocktail party
for what it is a piece of mortal stuffiness unworthy the gay name
of a delicate social drink."
On the more serious level, the high opinion Americans have of
Eden, whatever day-to-day clashes of opinion may bring forth, is
based on the feeling that fundamentally he shares their views about
Western civilization. They do not always agree with his policy
towards Russia, but they know that at bottom he agrees with them.
This was very well emphasized by James Forrestal in his diary,
already mentioned. In an entry for April 21, 1945, he noted:
"Anthony Eden dined with Admiral Leahy and me tonight. He
was quite gloomy about the Russians. He ascribed most of the
difficulty to Molotov's intransigence. He believed that Molotov
did not completely inform Stalin, and that when he did talk to him
he talked with prejudice towards the British and the United States.
He expressed the belief that the chief pivot of Russian policy to-day
was an effort to drive a wedge between England and the United
Admiral Leahy, whom Forrestal mentions, has high praise for
Eden in the story of his work as Chief of Staff to Presidents Roose-
velt and Truman. Recalling his visit to Washington in March 1943,
he says of him: "He was an effective spokesman for the British
point of view. I heard him make a speech at the National Press Club
234 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
during his visit. Eden, like other British political officials of high
position that I came to know, seemed to have a better understanding
of the general political policy of his country than was the case with
many of our own leaders. Anthony Eden knew what Britain
Eden was once described in the United States as "the diplomat's
diplomat", but in recent years he has come to be regarded as some-
thing more than that. Americans now usually think of him as a very
human person who is also one of the top experts in his chosen field,
a. mart of the world who is also keenly aware of the problems of the
ordinary people in it, and, above all, a very representative English-
Don Iddon, to whose recollections I am indebted for some of the
touches in the foregoing account, gives the following personal
"I first met Eden in 1945 at the founding conference of the
United Nations at San Francisco. In 1946 aboard the Aquitania
I came to know him better. We were aboard the Aquitania headed
for Halifax and Nova Scotia. Eden at the time was out of office, a
member of the Parliamentary delegation that was visiting the New
World. We used to pace the deck together. We played table tennis
together, and usually Eden won. I remember he made a brilliant
speech at the church service on Sunday and although he had care-
fully prepared it, he gave the impression that he was speaking just
from a few notes. Afterwards he gave me the speech which he had
written in longhand on the ship's notepaper.
"During the voyage he would invite groups of passengers,
mainly businessmen, into his cabin and give them a background to
the political situation. When we docked at Halifax, Canadian
newspapermen came aboard and shot questions at him. The
Socialists in the delegation were irked, and one said pompously: *Mr.
Eden is no longer in office now. We have a Labour Government.'
"Eden endorsed this. I spoke up and said that in or out of office
Eden was news, and that was what my Canadian colleagues and
myself were interested in.
"Since then I have seen Eden almost every time he has visited
New York. We have had an occasional drink in his hotel suite and
once an enormous crowd gathered in the corridors of the Waldorf
Astoria when Eden, myself and a couple of friends went for a drink
IN THE AMERICAN MIRROR 235
at the men's bar. He does not mind signing autographs as long as
the requests are not too many, but he dislikes having his photograph
taken when he is speaking. 'I don't like/ he explains, 'being under
"During his illness in 1953 when he underwent his operation in
Boston, I wrote to him. A little later, during his convalescence, he
asked me to lunch with him at the house of the John Barry Ryans,
at Newport. I did not know whether the luncheon would be formal
or not, but anyway I went in a dark blue suit and found Eden in
a black and white silk shirt, a silk kerchief, grey flannels and red
slippers. He was very thin and told me he only weighed ten stone.
He mixed me a martini and made himself a tomato juice.
"He said that he had been much more impressed with American
commercialized television than he had expected to be. After lunch
we chatted for a bit, and I could see that he was tired, and I talked
to Mrs. Eden for a few minutes. She is his great strength and
"I had only been back at my hotel room and had just finished
writing my piece when the 'phone rang. It was Eden. He said,
'I am just wondering what you might have written, old boy/ And
I told him it was mainly colour and a confident assertion that he
would soon be fit again. He is quite a worrier, as all politicians
should be, about what gets into print about him.
"My despatch was drastically cut and also changed in London.
One sentence horrified me, *and then the Foreign Secretary inter-
viewed Don Iddon by way of a change'. I wrote to the Foreign
Secretary to say that I hoped the punch-line, which was not mine,
had not jarred on him. He replied not at all, he was quite amused.
"He never fails to reply to a letter or a cable within a matter of
days. He received many thousands of letters, cables and telegrams
of congratulation when he was made Knight of the Garter. I sent
him a little note. Three days later I received the following cable:
'Thank you so much for your kind letter. I am most touched by
this generous thought. Anthony Eden, SOSFA'. For the ill-
informed, SOSFA means Secretary of State Foreign Affairs.
"Eden has had a good press for most of his political life. He
deserves it- he is one of the journalist's best friends."
CHURCHILL'S SUCCESSOR THE
IF an extended term of apprenticeship is a qualification for the
post of Premier, Sir Anthony Eden was better equipped than
any of his predecessors on taking over at 10 Downing Street. It
was as long ago as 1942 that his name was first submitted to the
Sovereign as Prime Minister designate.
In the midst of the war, Ministers in Whitehall shared the perils
of the times. No man was more exposed than Winston Churchill,
who disdained the hazards of war, holding that what was fated would
befall. Notoriously indifferent to physical danger, he survived half
a dozen narrow escapes from death. His travels abroad by sea and
air between Washington and Moscow involved him in recurrent
In 1942, when he was preparing to fly the Atlantic for urgent
discussions with the President after the attack on Pearl Harbour,
the possibility that he might perish on the flight was not to be over-
looked. Were he to be lost, who would take over the burden of
It was a problem for the Sovereign who, by constitutional
custom, may seek the guidance of an outgoing Prime Minister on
the selection of his successor. Here, however, there was no imniinent
vacancy, but only a contingent risk. There is a natural reluctance
to invite a man in vigorous health to contemplate and provide for
the circumstances of his own decease.
King George the Sixth was accustomed to receive his first
Minister week by week. Shortly before the Washington trip he
brought up the question: who should succeed were Winston to
become a casualty of war? A few days later Churchill gave his
considered reply by letter, submitting his formal advice that the
choice should fall on Eden. Sir Anthony was recommended as the
outstanding Minister in the largest political party in the House of
Commons and as one "who I am sure will be found capable of
CHURCHILL S SUCCESSOR THE EDEN ENIGMA 237
conducting your Majesty's affairs with the resolution, experience
and capacity which these grievous times require".
It was a circumstance without parallel in our political history,
nor has a Prime Minister designate continued for so long a term
to serve as subordinate to the Minister he is designed to follow.
Providence brought Winston Churchill through the hazards of
war in common with his Ministers, one of whom alone was a
casualty. Three elections followed, four Ministries succeeded to
the famous Coalition and Anthony Eden remained to serve as
loyal and devoted colleague under Churchill.
As the years went by and the Old Incomparable continued to
direct affairs, there was speculation about the strains that might be
imposed on an ambitious and impatient Eden. It was a complete
misreading that none could make who was aware of the relations
between these two men. Here, again, was a situation without
The cynic has said that in politics there are no enduring loyalties
at the top. It was written before the example of Churchill and Eden
provided the exception. For twenty years these two men developed
the harmony of their association. Their family traditions, their
liberal-minded approach to affairs, their comradeship in war
these things contributed to their community of outlook. But there
were others of whom the same might be written. The harmony of
the association of these two had deeper roots that go down to the
bedrock of character, to the fundamentals of man's faith, to those
basic elements, stronger and more elemental than the promptings
of his reason, that determine his unconscious reckoning of good and
evil. Somewhere in the unplumbed depths of personality that men
call their souls are rooted the ties that linked these men, enabling
them to rise above the superficial divergences of their natures the
one so turbulent, so dogmatic, at times so disdainful of opinions
other than his own.
By the unanimous testimony of those who worked with him,
Winston Churchill was no accommodating colleague and no easy
chief to serve. From the first Eden appears never to have been in
difficulties. The man who had not found it possible to serve with
Chamberlain would not have been expected to run in easy harness
with Chamberlain's successor. Eden found the masterful pre-
ferable to the martinet. Incidents such as Chamberlain's despatch
238 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
of the letter to Mussolini "I did not show it to Anthony I had
the feeling he would object to it" could not have occurred with
Churchill. It would have been unthinkable.
As mutual respect and trust grew with the years, it was found
that the masterful was not proof against the master of diplomacy,
and that the overbearing had sometimes to give way. In latter days
the understanding between the two Ministers was complete. No
major step by either man was taken without consultation of the
other. Rarely in our political affairs has such a partnership per-
sisted, so intimate and so loyal.
There was a moment when the succession nearly slipped from
Eden's grasp. In June 1953 Sir Winston suffered a stroke, which
left him for a week completely paralysed on the left side. Had his
indisposition been prolonged or had he heeded the medical advice
pressed on him to retire Eden would inevitably have lost his
chance. In that same month Eden's doctors, despairing of his life,
decided to send him by air to the United States for an operation
that could be performed nowhere else. Whether he would survive
no one could predict, and at the best it would require weeks of rest
before he could hope to return to public life.
For a party in opposition an interlude of a few months without
a permanent leader may be a matter of no great consequence,
but for a Ministry in office there can be no temporizing. "The
Queen's Government must go on" is an inescapable constitu-
tional requirement. It would have been necessary, with Sir Winston
incapacitated, for a Prime Minister to have been appointed.
Clearly the Queen could not have sent for the absent Sir
What considerations entered Churchill's mind at that time
have not been made known. But there are those who believe that
one of the reasons that induced him to disregard medical advice
and remain in office was a determination that Eden should not be
cheated of the succession.
Churchill's choice for successor was backed by the endorsement
of the Conservative Party. From the time of Munich until the out-
break of war a year later, there had been uneasy speculation among
Tory leaders about the future. The Conservative Party is happiest
when it has not only a Leader firmly in the saddle, but can see a
successor clearly marked out not one, necessarily, to whom it is
CHURCHILL S SUCCESSOR THE EDEN ENIGMA 239
formally committed, but a man who could take over should the
event require it.
In the months immediately before the war, Neville Chamber-
lain stood high in the esteem and, indeed, affection of his party.
But he was approaching seventy, the age at which Baldwin had
retired, declaring that in modern conditions no man could expect to
carry the burden of the Premiership beyond that age. The succession
was obscure and disturbing. No one questioned Sir Samuel Hoare's
seniority, but the ill-fated Hoare-Laval agreement had shaken even
loyal Conservatives, and the prospect of a Hoare premiership was
not considered to be inviting. Sir Thomas Inskip, even before his
unhappy display as Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, had
never shown qualities of leadership. Sir Kingsley Wood, though
his appeal to the party in the country was considerable, could not
be considered eligible. Oliver Stanley at that time had not flowered
as he did a few years later in political maturity: and R. A. Butler,
at thirty-six, seemed no more than one who might come along
nicely later. Harold Macmillan was a back-bencher with a caustic
tongue that he delighted to use against his own leaders.
There was nothing to build on for the immediate future. On the
outbreak of war, with the return of Winston Churchill and
Anthony Eden to office in a Conservative Government, the problem
When the dying Neville Chamberlain resigned the Conser-
vative leadership in October, 1940, and Churchill was appointed to
succeed him, there was a move to elect Anthony Eden as Deputy
Leader an appointment that had never been made in the party's
history. The move originated with a few Conservative M.P.S who
thought it might be wise if a somewhat safer party man were at
hand to keep an eye on the erratic genius of the new leader. It
failed to secure general support, and no such motion was put to the
election meeting. Nevertheless there were few who did not realize
that Anthony Eden was from that time leader-designate.
Fifteen years have passed since then, fifteen years for Eden as
political heir-at-law. The onlooker began to speculate on the
effect on Eden's relations with the party as the years took their toll
and the grey-haired man of middle-age succeeded to the elegance
of youth. The years made no difference. Eden's hold on the party
was as strong as he was nearing sixty as when he was in his
24O SIH ANTHONY EDEN
forties. The party remained as loyal to him as he had been to the
Whatever political virtues Eden may be said to lack, loyalty
to his party is not one. His resignation in 1938 was a step reluctantly
taken. There had been rumours of a break for some months before
it came. He endured much before the limits of his tolerance were
reached. There was to be some criticism of him here by those who
do not appreciate that while it may need courage to quit at the
price of a career, it requires courage of another sort, and much for-
bearance, to remain in office despite mounting resentment and the
urge to be gone.
When he had parted with Neville Chamberlain it was feared
that he might become the leader of a revolt. It was noted that he
made no such attempt and that he resisted the considerable pressure
pkced upon him to align himself with the militant Churchill. In
the months that followed his resignation he spoke rarely in Parlia-
ment or the country. When he did speak his main theme was the
need for national unity, and in developing his argument he did
little to disturb the unity of the party. No one could accuse him of
seeking to work his passage home. He did not follow either of the
two paths by which ex-Ministers may contrive their return to
office- he neither curried favour nor stimulated revolts to acquire
a nuisance value. He remained loyal, and in so doing won a
respect among all sections of the party that he has ever since
The annals of his career surveyed, Sir Anthony Eden emerges
in the roundness of the public figure, but something of the enigma
still remains. No man in affairs to-day conceals himself as does he
behind the political personality. The human foibles and weaknesses
are suppressed. Rarely in the entire range of his speeches is there a
personal touch, certainly no personal confession. He has preferred to
be the man in the political mask.
There will be much delving in future to reach the human being
behind the public figure. Little assistance will be received from
Eden as the probing proceeds. It is not from mere shyness nor by
any lack of awareness that this concealment of his character has
continued, nor, assuredly, must it be attributed to the absence
of individuality behind the mask. Behind the composed exterior is a
character that is singularly varied and rich in its human aspects. The
CHURCHILL S SUCCESSOR THE EDEN ENIGMA 241
Eden of public life is kcking in human feeling. The Anthony behind
the mask often feels too much.
To survive the kicks and bufferings of political life a man must
be protected by a tough hide. One need not look long at a bevy of
politicians to be assured that they are as effectively protected as the
rhinoceros. Eden has not been so well equipped. He is the artist
turned politician. He has the artist's sensitivity and has had to con-
trive for himself the protective covering with which nature ill
The process began at an early age. The boy formed the self-
protective habits that the man developed, the boy who was son
of that distressing parent Sir William Eden.
The boyhood days of Windlestone give the clue to Anthony
Eden's character. He is essentially an Eden, end product of the line
that incorporated those varied elements inherited from stout
warriors, loyal cavaliers, men of talent, capability and achievement
in public life, with, superimposed, the artistic strain of recent
Heredity evolved the man Anthony Eden. His father produced
the public figure. Contact with Sir William Eden imposed strains
few adults would willingly endure. For children, raillery, however
good-natured, and sarcasm, although without the sting of malice,
are immensely wounding. Lacking in any form of defence they
can do no more than curl up, withdraw within themselves snail
fashion, and expose no sensitive target for attack. At the outset of
his life Sir Anthony learned his first lesson that self-effacement is
the easiest form of self-protection.
There is another factor in what are termed parental influences
that has had a determining effect. The uncontrollable rages that
possessed the father were a warning to the son. He came to realize
that he had inherited, though to a lesser degree, the father's quick-
ness of temper. Marking the danger, he pkced himself under strict
self-discipline. Throughout his public life he has ridden himself
under a tight rein. He has fought his temper down and has estab-
lished control. It has added to the curbing effects of his self-efface-
ment. It has become a conviction with him that it is wrong to
allow the weakness of temper to escape and in bad taste to display
One more lesson drawn from youth's experiences must be added
242 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
to understand the Eden of public life. The sharp sayings from his
father that taught him self-protection were a demonstration of the
damaging consequences of words that wound. He drew the con-
clusion that has guided him in politics and diplomacy. Not for him
the retorts that humiliate. Why sear a man's pride and produce a
life-long enemy? The soft answer not merely turns away wrath but
promotes understanding and contributes to the fulfilment of one's
ultimate purpose. As his career proceeded he could mark examples
to prove the case how Baldwin's manner could charm away
dissent, how Neville Chamberlain, the partisan, provoked anger
and resentment amongst his opponents.
Rigid self-control, self-effacement continuously applied to per-
sonal feeling these are the restraints that have produced the Eden
of public life. They are not the characteristics that have belonged to
successful politicians, party leaders and prime ministers. Churchill,
Lloyd George, Baldwin, Asquith these were men who displayed
rather than masked their personalities. How, then, did the choice
fall upon Anthony Eden as successor to Sir Winston as party
leader and Prime Minister? He was chosen not merely because he
was the best man available for the job his selection was grounded
more deeply than that.
Eden was accepted as a man possessed in high degree of the
qualities for leadership. Even by comparison with Churchill he was
no inconsiderable figure. Against the background of the average he
was seen to be outstanding the one fresh figure of first magnitude
(to use Winston's phrase) arising out of the generation ravaged by
the war. He was a man of brains, judgment, and ability, a man who
had proved his ability as administrator at the War Office and his
skill in diplomacy at a score of conferences. In the House of Com-
mons he was popular, esteemed, an able speaker and no mean
debater. As an electoral asset there was all that a party manager
could ask good looks, charm, an appeal to women and, no
negligible matter, an admirable television manner. Beyond these
things were the basic points of character loyalty and integrity.
He was a man who had resigned high office rather than sacrifice a
principle and who had never sought to make personal capital out
of his differences with his leaders. He had proved himself in the
most searching of political tests.
As a parliamentary force, Eden has rarely shown his strength.
CHURCHILL S SUCCESSOR THE EDEN ENIGMA 243
As Foreign Secretary he suffered a double handicap. The duties of
his department made him a frequent absentee from Westminster.
Touring the world in search of peace, he visited the capitals of
Europe and ranged the continents Eastward to Bangkok, West-
ward to San Francisco. Continuity in the handling of international
affairs deprived him of the opportunity of taking part in the
debates of domestic politics.
As a speaker he suffered the penalty of Foreign Office prose.
In a field where words and phrases are scanned in the world's
capitals to see what fine shades of meaning they can be made to
convey, it is understandable that the Foreign Secretary should
hesitate to tear up his brief, with all its platitudes, and express him-
self vigorously in his own words.
The prepared speech has been Eden's enemy. He has always
put it over well, very much better than did either Bevin or Morri-
son, but while it may have been a pleasant performance, it made
little rhetorical impact. On rare occasions he was heard to speak out
regardless, and then he showed that he does not lack the leader's
ability to hit out and hit hard. There was the occasion, to which I
have referred, when he answered the critics on Greece. More
recently he showed his political mettle when defending the plan
for a German contribution to Western defence early in 1954. This,
too, was a winding-up speech in which he was able to speak with-
out elaborately prepared notes.
"We have the same doubts and the same memories as you," he
told his critics of the Opposition. "There is one young subaltern
who will never forget going to a casualty station during the first
Battle of the Somme, and searching among, literally, heaps of
wounded for the riflemen of his own company. These are the sort
of experiences that are never forgotten/' It was emotional, and it
was sincere, and the House listened with growing approval.
Without a pause he went on to win cheers from his Conser-
vative supporters by a detailed reminder of how the Labour
Government, Aneurin Bevan and Harold Wilson being members
of it, had been committed to the policy he was championing. It
was of no use for opponents such as those to talk like detached
spirits. "They are the authors, and they are responsible," he de-
clared, with a sweep of the arm.
Eden ended on a different note with a passage about a visit to
244 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
Germany and the manner in which a hall of students had cheered
his appeal to German youth to co-operate in the building of a new
Europe and so redeem their country's past. Few members in the
House that night could doubt that they were hearing the authentic
note of leadership. Nor could they doubt it that evening in mid-
March, 1955, when he wound up a debate on an Opposition motion
inviting censure of the Government for failing to call high level
talks or secure agreement on disarmament. It was a forthright
speech, very much to the liking of the packed benches behind him.
Casting aside his usual cloak of caution, he scored all the party
points he could in presenting a telling contrast between the records
of the two Governments, Socialist and Conservative, in their work
The party leader, ready for the cut and thrust of debate, has not
been extinguished by years of rigid self-control, but it is by the
voice of reason and persuasiveness that he has won his authority in
the House of Commons. Churchill has been howled down when
party spirit has been heated. Eden has never been refused a hearing.
His command of the House is the measure of his skill as Parlia-
At political meetings his hold over his audience is no less sure.
In his own constituency his popularity is such that his hearers seem
to hang on his every word. His ease and charm of manner, his
memory for the faces and names of those he has met, the impression
he gives of genuine pleasure at being amongst his friends, and his
unfailing approachability have endeared him to the electors of
Politicians prefer a partisan for leader and give their loudest
cheers to the fighting speech. There are dangers in this. It gives
opportunity to the ambitious man with a talent for invective to
exploit the convictions of others to his own advantage. The
national interest is subordinated to party ends. Gresham's Law
operates in politics as well as in finance. Bad politics, like bad money,
drive out the good. The result Thucydides pictured it in ancient
Love of power, operating through greed and through personal
ambition, was the cause of evils. To this must be added violent fanaticism.
Leaders of the parties had programmes which appeared admirable
CHURCHILL S SUCCESSOR THE EDEN ENIGMA 245
on the one side political equality for the masses, on the other safe and
sound government for the aristocracy. But in professing to serve the
public interest they were seeking to win prizes for themselves. In the
struggle for ascendancy nothing was barred; parties were deterred
neither by claims of justice nor by the interests of the state.
From these perils, not to be minimized in our day, the leader-
ship of Anthony Eden may be relied upon to preserve us. Whatever
he may lack as partisan, he is in no degree wanting as national
leader. The long years in diplomacy have attested his qualities. He
has patience that Bevin placed first amongst the requirements of a
Foreign Secretary. He has loyalty, and precision that Harold
Nicolson puts on the list, a cultivated calm and truthfulness, the
essential that Callieres postulated in his classic manual on the
diplomat's craft "moral influence is the most essential qualify-
cation of a diplomatist; he must be a man of the strictest honour".
Eden's integrity has never been in question. He applied to inter-
national affairs a sense of moral values that his pre-war colleagues
found to be disturbing, judging events by the reckoning of absolute
right and wrong. Under his leadership there will be no debasement
of the currency of politics.
Eden has been accepted by the electors since League of Nations
days as a statesman of liberal mind. In the gradations of party
placings his position is not established. None look upon him as being
to the Left as they regard R. A. Butler, or to the Right, as they
looked on Lyttelton or look on Lennox-Boyd. Eden is sufficiently
progressive to please the Tory Reformer of an earlier Parliament or
the One Nation Group of to-day, but not so energetically pro-
gressive as to engender any fears on the Right that his Conser-
vatism may be tinged with pink. Under him sound and sane progress
is confidently expected with the essentials in the fabric of society
firmly held. Were there any doubt about that in the minds of Con-
servative M.P.S it would concern that word "firmly". The Con-
servatives were genuinely indignant with the "Punch" cartoon
after last year's Geneva settlements that depicted the Chamberlain-
like Eden with the umbrella. Nevertheless doubts do exist in some
minds as to whether he is the man to offer the most robust resistance
to pressure, either from abroad or from the trades unions at home.
Here those who know Sir Anthony best assert that they misread
246 SIR ANTHONY EDEN
the man. Behind the flexibility of the diplomat, they aver, is a hard
core of Eden obstinacy*
Doubts on this point arise from comparison between Eden
and Churchill, It is a comparison that is inevitable, one to which
only the strongest political force would willingly submit. How
many reputations are there amongst the long line of Prime Ministers
that would not lose in lustre when set against the incomparable
Eden has distinction enough to claim his place in the line of
statesmen who have sat in 10 Downing Street as First Minister
of the Crown. He is unchallengeable for the knowledge gained at
first hand of the world, its affairs and its leaders.
In this atom-menaced generation the conduct of foreign affairs
has an importance for humanity that transcends all other tasks of
politics. In days when a statesman's indiscretion, or a chance mis-
calculated may touch off the agencies of devastation, there is cause
for satisfaction and assurance that Britain's leadership is entrusted to
the man who has devoted a lifetime to the intricacies of diplomacy
and the pursuit of peace. For the thirty years since Locarno his
purpose has been the same, and he has pursued it with fidelity and
Nations in their dealings with each other have maintained a
consistent standard of self-interest. Might has rarely been sub-
ordinated to right. The self-interest of kings and statesmen, the
commerical interest of communities, have been the touchstone
of international conduct. Kingdoms, Empires and Republics
have not behaved to each other as would honourable men.
From time to time the note of morality has been diffidently and
tremulously raised. Anthony Eden's voice has been heard in the
With the establishment of the League of Nations idealists
looked for the realization of their dreams of the ordering of affairs
between the nations in a world of peace directed by justice. In this
experiment in the application of equity in international life Eden
played a leading part on the side of truth, justice and morality. The
experiment failed. The idealists found that their dreams were
ahead of political possibilities. In a later generation we have come,
regretfully, to concede that truth is only another argument, and
that what is right in Yorkshire may be questioned in Ohio and
CHURCHILL S SUCCESSOR THE EDEN ENIGMA 247
rejected in Odessa. None the less, the experiment was not in vain.
From the failures of the past emerge the successes of the future.
It was in the light of his experience with the old League that
Eden co-operated in the founding of the new League that is known
as the United Nations. If the idealist's dreams at last come true and
the millennium is realized, the peoples will look back on the pioneers
who took the first steps towards establishing the world order of
justice and peace. Among those in honoured place there is reason
that the name Robert Anthony Eden should be conspicuously
The sources upon which I have drawn for the basis of my story are the
daily newspapers of the last thirty years, "Hansard", the "Dictionary of
National Biography" and the following books, to the authors of which
I wish to express my indebtedness:
Historical Notes of the Eden Family, The Rev. Robert Allan
Eden, vicar of Old St. Pancras Church, Blades & Blades, 1907.
The Tribulations of a Baronet, Sir Timothy Eden, Macmillans,
Life and Letters of Sir Austen Chamberlain, Sir Charles Petrie,
Retrospect, Viscount Simon, Hutchinson, 1952.
Stanley Baldwin, G. M. Young, Hart Davis, 1952.
Life of Neville Chamberlain, Keith Feiling, Macmillan, 1946.
Old Men Forget, the Autobiography of Duff Cooper (Viscount
Norwich), Hart Davis, 1953.
Nine Troubled Years, Viscount Templewood (Sir Samuel Hoare),
Viscount Halifax, Alan Campbell Johnson, Hale, 1941.
Neville Chamberlain, Derek Walker Smith, Hale, 1939.
I Fight to Live, Robert Boothby, M.P., Gollancz, 1947.
The Second World War, Sir Winston Churchill, Six volumes,
Curzon, the Last Phase, Harold Nicolson, Constable, 1934.
Arthur James Balfour, Blanche E. C. Dugdale, Hutchinson, 1936.
Ernest Bevin, Francis Williams, Hutchinson, 1952.
White House Papers of Harry L. Hopkins, Robert E. Sherwood,
Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1948.
History of Anglo-Soviet Relations, W. O. & Zelda Coates,
Lawrence & Wishart, 1944.
Diplomatic Twilight, 1939-40, Sir Walford Selby, John Murray,
Orders of the Day, Earl Winterton, Cassells, 1953.
Fallen Bastions, George Gedye, Gollancz, 1939.
Ronald Cartland, by his Sister, Hutchinson, 1942.
Ambassador's Wife, Elisabetta Cerroti, Allen & Unwin, 1952.
Speaking Frankly, James F. Byrnes, Heinemann, 1948.
The Fateful Years, Andr Frangois-Poncet, Gollancz, 1949.
A Mirror to Geneva, George Slocombe, Cape, 1937.
Geneva Scene, Norman Hillson, Routledge, 1936.
British Foreign Policy, P. A. Reynolds, Longmans, 1954.
Prelude to World War II, Gaetano Salvemini, Gollancz, 1953.
Failure of a Mission, Sir Nevile Henderson, Hodder & Stoughton,
Blackmail or War, Genevieve Tabouis, Penguins, 1938.
Thucydides, translated by Rex Warner, Penguins, 1955.
Grey of Falloden, G. M. Trevelyan, Longmans, 1937.
My Political Life, L. S. Amery, Hutchinson, 1952.
The Passing Years, Lord Willoughby de Broke, Constable, 1924.
BY SIR ANTHONY EDEN:
Places in the Sun, with a Preface by the Rt. Hon. Stanley Baldwin,
M.P., Prime Minister, John Murray, 1926.
Foreign Affairs, Fabers, 1939.
Freedom and Order, Fabers, 1947.
Days for Decision, Fabers, 1949.
ABYSSINIA, 55-65, 66-8, 75, 76, 77,
78, 80, 93, 96, 100, 101, 104,
107, 118, 120
Acheson, Dean, 201
Acland, Sir R., 184
Addis Ababa, 76
Adenauer, 204, 215,217
Albania, 130, 162
Alexander, King, 45
Aloisi, Baron, 40
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leo, 33, 124, 138,
Anglo-Iranian Oil, 210
Annapolis, 15, 169
Appeasement, 91, 95, 113, 117, 122,
128, 134, 150, 228
Arundell, Lord, 16
Asquith, H. H., 12, 37, 90, 242
Athens, 180, 181, 182, 183
Atlantic Charter, 186
Attlee, Rt. Hon. Clement, 188, 192
Auckland, Lord, 14, 22, 196
Australia, 30-1, 140, 141, 196-7
Austria, 44, 48, 52, 75, 96, 104,
106, 107, 108, 113, 116, 161,
Axis, 84, 100, 130, 162
BALDWIN, Earl Stanley, 25, 28, 29,
31, 45, 52, 53, 59, 60, 62, 65,
71, 76, 78, 79, 87, 89, 90, 105,
130, 242, 248
Balfour, Arthur, 12, 151, 248
Balkans, 75, 152, 153, 166, 180
Baltimore, 15, 16, 169
Barthou, Louis, 45
Baxter, Sir B., 232
Beaverbrook, Lord, 32, 147, 158
Beck, Col, 54
Beckett, Beatrice, Mrs. Eden, 25,
Belgium, 70, 71, 73, 74, 215
Benes, Dr., 40, 51
Bevan, Aneurin, 184, 243
Bevin, Ernest, 192, 193, 194, 220,
Birkenhead, Lord, 38
Blum, Leon, 76, 80, 81
Boncour, Paul, 40
Boothby, Robert, 139, 248
Bracken, Brendon, 139
Brenner, 44, 78, 116
Broad Chalke, 225
Bulgaria, 180, 189
Busch, Noel, 232
Butler, R. A., 207, 208, 239, 245
Byrnes, J.E, 193,248
CADOGAN, Sir Alexander, 96, 103,
Cairo, 142, 152, 176, 178
Calvert, Caroline, 15, 169
Canada, 29, 124, 140, 141, 170, 196,
Cardand, Ronald, 115, 124, 248
Cattell, Dr. Richard, 209
Cecil, Viscount Robert, 58
Cezanne, 224, 231
Chamberlain, Sir A., 32, 33, 58, 65,
74, 76, 85, 105, 199, 248
Chamberlain J., 32, 190
Chamberlain, Lady, 105
Chamberlain, Neville, 12, 33, 45,
53, 57, 60, 62, 72, 73, 74, 76,
88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 95, 96,
98, 103, 105-14, 115-16, 119,
120, 121, 124, 128, 129, 132,
135, 137, 138, 140, 143, 144,
Chamberlain, Neville (cont.)
150, 214, 237, 238, 239, 240,
Chiang Kai Shek, 176-7
China, 164, 165, 167, 208, 213
Chou En-Lai, 213, 214
Christ Church, 21-3
Church Times, 205
Churchill, Clarissa (Lady Eden),
205-6, 225, 235
Churchill, Sir Winston, 9, 12, 20,
21, 37, 54, 56, 58, 61, 76, 80,
85,90,92,95, 103, 110, 113,
119, 124, 128, 140, 143, 145,
148, 150, 153, 157, 160, 162,
165, 166, 172, 177, 178, 180,
182, 185, 189, 190, 192, 194,
195, 200,206, 209, 213, 222
Ciano, Count, 105, 106, 111, 130
Cocks, Seymour, 184
Columbia University, 201
Conservative Party, 171, 192, 194,
Cooper, Sir Duff, Lord Norwich,
55, 103, 104, 108, 109, 110,
Coward, Noel, 119
Cranborne, Lord, Lord Salisbury,
Cripps, Sir Stafford, 152, 198
CurzonLine, 168, 186
Curzon, Lord, 95, 219, 222, 248
Czechoslovakia, 51, 75, 96, 116,
117, 118-19, 120, 128, 130,
135, 162, 189
DAXADIER, M., 134
Damaskinos, Archbishop, 185
Davis, Norman, 40
D-Day, 178, 179
De Gaspari, 206
De Gaulle, Gen., 144, 172, 179, 182
Delbos, M., 85, 93
Denmark, 143, 189
Derby, Bishop of, 10, 22
De Valera, 78
Dill, Sir J., 152
Diplomatic Service, 106, 156
Disarmament Conference, 39, 42
Dollfuss, Chancellor, 40, 44, 78
Dominions Office, 140-3
Dulles, J.F., 212, 213, 217
Dunkirk, 143, 149
Durham, 13, 14
E.D.C., 200, 203-4, 208, 210, 215-17
Eden family, 12-17
Eden, Sir Robert Anthony, birth,
12; ancestry, 12-17; parents,
18-19, 241; Eton, 20; Army
Service, 20-1; M.C., 20; Ox-
ford, 21-3; first marriage, 25;
candidate for parliament, 24-6;
M.P., 26; maiden speech, 26-7;
P.P.S., 28; Empire tour, 29-31;
P.P.S. Foreign Secretary, 32-4;
at Disarmament Conference,
38-40; Under Secretary, 36-41;
Lord Privy Seal, 42-52; Minister
for League, 53-65; Foreign
Secretary, 64-114; differences
with Chamberlain, 91-2, 95,
97, 98-102; resignation, 104-
14; visit to U.S., 124-6;
Dominions Secretary, 140-3;
Secretary for War, 143-9; visits
Middle East, 147-8; Foreign
Office, 150-92; Near East Mis-
sion, 152-4; visits Moscow, 159-
61, 173-5; in America, 165-70;
at Cairo, 175; at Teheran, 176-
8; in Moscow, 180; in Athens,
181; in Paris, 181; in Athens,
183; at Yalta, 185-6; in Wash-
ington, 188; San Francisco Con-
ference, 188-9; at Potsdam,
192; in opposition, 194; Empire
tour, 196-7; Foreign Office,
198-217; in Paris, 200; in U.S.,
200-1; in Berlin, 204-5; second
marriage, 205-6; in U.S.,
207; illness, 208-9, 235, 238;
Eden, Sir Robert Anthony (cont.)
Knight of Garter, 217; Prime
Minister Designate, 236-40;
Prime Minister, 218; work as
Foreign Secretary, 218-22; at
home, 222-5; travels, 221;
languages, 221; as speaker, 27,
28, 67, 83-4, 123, 184, 194,
195, 222, 230-1, 243-4
Speeches maiden, 27; Iran, 3 1 ; dis-
armament, 43; Mussolini meet-
ing, 56, 86; Rhineland, 73-4;
Abyssinia, 61, 76-7; the League,
77, 86; war in Spain, 81, 83,
94, 121; diplomacy, 106; resig-
nation, 1 1 1-14, 1 15-16; national
unity, 117-18, 122-3; Conser-
vatism, 118; Czechoslovakia,
119-20; Italy, 121; to U.S.
industrialists, 125-6; in French,
134; on Poland, 136, 137, 138,
186-7; to Empire, 141; on Im-
perialism, 142, 178-9; Battle of
Britain, 145-6; Russia as ally,
158, 163, 186-7; at Annapolis,
169; on Greece, 182, 184; at San
Francisco, 189; election broad-
cast, 191; continuity in policy,
193; post-war problems, 201-2
Deals with problems of Saar, 45;
Abyssinia, 57-65, 67-9; Rhine-
land, 69-75; Spanish War, 89-
97; Roosevelt Letter, 98, 102;
Poland, 172, 180, 186, 192;
Greece, 180-5; Korea, 203;
Persian oil, 203, 210-1 1; Egypt,
87, 210-12; Indo-China, 212-
14; European defence, 203-4,
Meetings with Hitler, 42, 46-8;
Mussolini, 43, 55-6; Stalin,
49-57; Roosevelt, 125; Pil-
sudski, 51; Benes, 51
Relations with Baldwin, 89;
Chamberlain, 89-90, 91, 102,
113, 116; Churchill, 150, 171,
Eden, Sir Robert Anthony (cont.)
Books, 29, 130-1, 196, 249
Character of, 17, 83-4, 103, 108,
113, 228, 232, 240-7; American
opinions of, 226-35
Eden, Sir Timothy, 15, 248
Eden, Sir William, 12, 18-19, 222
Egypt, 87, 147, 180, 199, 203,
Eisenhower, President, 175, 179,
Elizabeth II, Queen, 217, 238
Eton College, 18, 20, 150
FEELING, Keith, 102> 248
Figl, Dr., 206
Fisher, Sir Warren, 156
Flandin, M., 68, 71, 73
Foreign Office, 9, 11, 40, 42, 53-4,
64, 67, 89, 90, 91, 93, 95, 96,
98, 100, 103, 107, 123, 150,
151, 154, 156, 167, 171, 198,
199, 206, 218-22,243
Forrestal, James, 233
France, 33, 34, 39, 40, 43, 47, 52,
58, 60, 61, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72,
73, 78, 80, 81, 85, 89, 91, 92,
96, 104, 119, 134, 138, 144,
145, 146, 150, 179, 182, 213,
Franco, Gen., 80, 81, 84, 118
GALLAGHER, W., 77, 184
Garter Knight, 2 17, 235
Geneva, 39, 40, 42, 49, 53, 59, 60,
62, 63, 66, 67, 76, 78, 210,
George II, King of Hellenes, 185
George V, King, 65
George VI, King, 87, 166, 193,
Germany, 33, 34, 39, 40, 43, 51,
55, 57, 68, 69, 72, 73, 78, 84,
85, 89, 90, 91, 92, 96, 106,
107, 119, 120, 128, 137, 139,
143, 144, 152, 161, 186, 190,
Grandi, Count, 76, 91, 96, 105,
106, 107, 109, 110-11
Greece, 148, 152, 153, 172, 180-5,
Greenwood, Arthur, 138
Grey, Earl, 12, 14
Grey, Sk Edward, 12, 185, 219,
HAILE Selassie, 63, 76, 78
Halifax, Lord, 65, 71, 91, 92, 93,
94, 96, 109, 116, 121, 128,
137, 148-9, 150, 188, 248
Henderson, Sk N., 92, 137, 249
Herriot, M., 59
Hitler, Adolf, 34, 36, 37, 40, 44,
46, 48, 52, 54, 68, 69, 71, 72,
75, 79, 80, 84, 85, 90, 92, 96,
104, 106, 108, 109, 113, 117,
119, 120, 128, 129, 130, 131,
135, 137, 140, 141, 147, 157,
161, 186, 189, 199
Hoare, Sk S., Lord Templewood, 27,
53, 54, 57, 58, 59, 60, 63-6, 68,
69,84,90, 91, 101, 102, 111,
Hoare-Laval Plan, 63-4, 95
Hoesch, von, 69
Holland, 70, 215
Holy Roman Empke, 16
Home Guard, 143
Home Office, 28
Hong Kong, 167
Hopkins, Harry, 155, 167, 168, 248
Hughes, Emmet, 230
Hull, CordeU, 92, 104, 166, 168,
Hungary, 180, 182, 189
IDDON, Don, 10, 234, 235
India, 13, 140, 196
Indo-China, 210, 212-13
Inonii, President, 152
Italy, 40, 52, 55, 56, 57, 59, 67, 76,
105, 106, 107, 108, 111, 113,
118, 121, 144, 148, 172, 175,
JAMES, Henry, 46
Japan, 40, 155, 159, 160, 161, 180,
Jowett, Lord, 213
Joynson Hicks, Sk W., 28
KBMAL Ataturk, 27
Khyber Pass, 197
Kkkpatrick, Sk I., 220
Kitchener, Lord, 85
Korea, 200, 203
K.R.R.C., 21, 135, 143
LANSBURY, George, 66
Laval, P., 55, 57, 58, 60, 61, 63,
Law, Richard, 124
League of Nations, 19, 36, 39, 43,
45, 49, 54, 55, 57-64, 66, 67,
71, 72, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 86,
87, 96, 124, 150, 165, 199,
Leahy, Admkal, 233
Lebrun, President, 70
Life magazine, 230, 232
Lindsay, Sk Ronald, 99, 100
Little Entente, 58
Lloyd George, David, Lord, 12, 62,
Locarno, Treaty of, 32, 33, 34, 38,
40, 68, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 85,
105, 120, 232
Locker-Lampson, G., 28
Lowe, Dean, 10, 22
Lublin Committee, 180, 186
MACDONAID, J. RAMSAY, 12, 26,
27, 28, 34, 36, 40, 42, 47, 52,
Macmillan, Harold, 124, 239
Maisky, Ivan, 49, 157, 159, 162,
Malenkov, M., 217
Maryland, 15, 16, 17, 169, 170
Masterman, J. C, 10, 22
Mediterranean, 61, 68, 75, 80, 85,
92,94, 118, 180,209
Mendes-France, P., 213, 215, 217
Middleton, Drew, 228, 232
Molotov, M., 162, 173, 174, 180,
Montgomery, Field Marshal, 189
Morrison, Herbert, 220, 225, 243
Mountbatten, Lord, 176-7
Munich, 84, 115, 116, 119, 120,
Mussolini, Benito, 36, 39, 43, 44,
52, 58, 60, 62, 63, 66, 67, 68,
76, 78, 79, 80, 84, 85, 86, 91,
92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 99, 105,
106, 107, 108, 109, 112, 113,
117, 130, 137, 144, 172, 189
NADOINY, HERE, 40
Nahas Pasha, 87
Nasser, Col, 211, 212
N.A.T.O., 200, 215, 216, 217
Neurath, Baron von, 40
New Zealand, 29, 30, 140, 141, 196
Nicolson, Sir Harold, 245
Non Intervention, 80, 81, 82, 84,
94, 107, 108, 121
North Africa, 147, 166, 171
Nyon, 93, 94
O'CONNOR, T. P., 34
Overland, 174, 175
Oxford, 18,21,22,23,206, 224
Paul, Prince, 153
Pearl Harbour, 155, 159, 187, 236
Persia, 27, 203, 210-11
P6tain, Marshal, 144
Pilsudski, Marshal, 51
Pitt, William, 14
Pleven, M., 200
Poland, 50, 51, 60, 75, 128, 131,
133, 135, 136, 137-8, 141,
157, 162, 168, 172, 180, 186,
Pollock, Sir E., 26
Potsdam Conference, 192
Punch cartoon, 214
QUEBEC, 29, 172, 173
Questionnaire, 73, 131
READING, Lord, 36
Reynaud, Paul, 143, 144
Rhineland, 69-75, 131, 162
Ribbentrop, von, 46, 130, 134, 135
Robertson, Sir M., 156
Rome, 55, 62
Roosevelt, President, 98-102, 104,
109, 112, 125, 126, 148, 154,
155, 159, 162, 166-9, 172,
177, 185, 187, 188
Roumania, 166, 180, 189
Rudolph, Emperor, 16
Russia, 32, 46, 49-51, 70, 80, 99,
131-3, 134, 135, 137, 141,
157-8, 159, 160, 163, 164,
165, 166, 168, 171, 172, 186-7,
188, 189, 190, 192, 194, 199,
Salisbury, Lord, 46, 90, 219, 220,
Samuel, Lord, 213
Sanctions, 61, 63, 68, 76, 78
San Francisco, 188-9, 190, 199, 234,
Sarraut, M., 70
Schuman, M., 200, 204
Schuschnigg, Chancellor, 106
Scobie, Gen., 182
Shaftesbury, Lord, 16
Sherwood, Robert, 248
Simon, Sir John, 37-8, 40, 42, 45,
Smith, Bedell, 214
Smuts, Field Marshal, 60, 140, 148
Snowden, Lord, 62
South Africa, 78, 140
Spain, War in, 79, 80-4, 92, 94,
104, 105 107, 108, 109, 112,
Spennymoor Division, 25
Stalin, 50, 51, 132, 133, 158, 159,
160, 161, 162, 163, 168, 173-5,
180, 185, 192, 206, 207, 233
Stresa Conference, 52, 58, 66, 69,
Sweden, 45, 174
TEHERAN Conference, 176-8, 185
Thompson, Dorothy, 228
Time Magazine, 214, 229
Times newspaper, 182
Tito, Marshal, 206-7
Titulesco, M., 40
Truman, President H., 172, 187-8,
Turkey, 27, 32, 148, 152, 174, 176,
United Nations, 164, 166, 167,
188-9, 190, 199,214,234
United States, 82, 98, 99, 102,
124-6, 137, 148, 151, 154,
155, 158, 159, 160, 163, 164,
165, 168, 170, 173, 182, 183,
186, 190, 191, 207, 208, 213,
VANSITTAST, Lord, 95
Versailles Treaty, 39, 43, 47, 55, 120
Victoria, Queen, 12
Vietnam, 212, 213, 214
WAIJPOLB, Sir Robert, 89
War Office, 140, 143-9, 151, 242
Warwick, 24, 28, 34, 37, 124
Warwick, Countess of, 24-6
WaveU, Gen. Lord, 141, 147, 152,
Western Germany, 204, 216
Weygand, Gen., 144
Whistler, the Painter, 19
White House, 167, 188, 200
Wilkie, Wendell, 169
Willoughby de Broke, Lord, 24, 249
Wilson, Sir H., 96
WinantJ. G., 155
Windlestone, 12, 18, 169, 222
Winterton, Lord, 38, 248
Wolmer, Lord, 124
YALTA Conference, 185-6, 187, 188
Yugoslavia, 152, 153, 162, 180, 189,